Motorist tells of battle to save baby

STEPHEN PULLINGER A motorist last night relived the moment he plunged into a freezing roadside dyke to rescue a baby trapped upside down in his car seat under water.Haulier Graham D'eath, 48, told how he worked in the pitch black to free the nine-month-old from the upturned Citroen Saxo while his hysterical mother begged him: “Save my baby.

STEPHEN PULLINGER

A motorist last night relived the moment he plunged into a freezing roadside dyke to rescue a baby trapped upside down in a car seat under water.

Haulier Graham D'eath, 48, told how he worked in the pitch black to free the nine-month-old from the upturned Citroen Saxo while his hysterical mother begged him: "Save my baby. Don't let my baby die."

But when he shouted for help to a van that stopped at the scene, the driver's "unbelievable" response was to swear at him and drive on.

The parents of the child, who it is believed was under water for around five minutes, were last night at his bedside at Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, where his condition was reported to be critical but stable.

The accident at Halvergate, near Yarmouth, has re-ignited calls for more extensive safety work on the notorious Acle Straight where hospital worker Glenn Fransham drowned in a dyke after a crash two years ago this month.

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Mr D'eath, of Horsford, near Norwich, was on his way to bingo in Yarmouth with his partner Elaine Sear when their black Mercedes C270 was involved in the collision at about 6.20pm on Sunday.

The haulier, who runs his own company, MG European, in Norwich, said: "I was shaken but I jumped out and all I could hear was a woman shouting, 'Save my baby. Don't let my baby die'."

Mr D'eath said by following the car lights he found the Citroen upside down and half in the ditch, with the baby's mother already scrabbling to open the rear door.

He jumped into the dyke and pulled the other two adults in the car out. Then, with the mother, he worked to release the baby, feeling for him in the dark.

Mr D'eath said after he got the baby out, a doctor who had stopped her car took over and started mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

He said: "This accident reinforces the case for putting in a dual carriageway and crash barriers either side."

His sentiments were echoed by Yarmouth MP Tony Wright, who said: "Tragically, until something is done we are going to see a repetition of this type of accident.

"We need these dykes moved away from the road. I understand some concerns from environmentalists, but life is to be taken as the priority."

Norfolk County Council cabinet member for transportation Adrian Gunson, chairman of the A47 Alliance, said: "We remain dedicated to dualling the entire A47 and the Acle Straight is a priority.

"It needs more space so we don't get cars ending up in the dykes."

The Highways Agency said its officers had already planned a meeting with stakeholders today to discuss progress on a feasibility study looking at the viability of moving dykes.

A spokesman said the agency had recently completed a £600,000 safety scheme, involving resurfacing and new markings.

Police last night appealed for witnesses who saw either the collision or the manner of driving of either vehicle prior to the collision and/or the movements of any animals near the scene. Contact PC Shaun Turner at Acle road policing on 0845 456 4567.