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Binman prevents runaway post van disaster in West Hampstead

PUBLISHED: 08:00 04 April 2013

Binman Jose Dias blocked the path of a runaway van hurtling down a hill with his rubbish truck, averting a crash. Picture: Nigel Sutton

Binman Jose Dias blocked the path of a runaway van hurtling down a hill with his rubbish truck, averting a crash. Picture: Nigel Sutton

© Nigel Sutton email pictures@nigelsuttonphotography.com

A quick-thinking binman has been hailed as a hero after he used his truck to block the path of a runaway post van which was hurtling down a hill, moments away from crashing into a row of busy shops.

Jose Dias was doing the morning rubbish collection in West End Lane, West Hampstead, when he saw the Royal Mail van with a panicked postman running after it, careering backwards down Frognal Lane and gathering speed.

But before disaster struck, the binman drove his rubbish truck into the van’s path, taking a bash to the left side of his vehicle but saving the lives of pedestrians in the van’s path.

“At first I thought the van was reversing,” said the 37-year-old refuse collector. “But then I realised the van was travelling too fast for that and I saw the driver running after it at the top of the hill.

“I was scared because there was a main road at the end of the hill, so it would have been a very bad accident.

“I knew I had to do something quickly to block the road, so I swung the vehicle around to ensure the post van couldn’t go any further. It’s just part of the job protecting the public and something I am proud to do.”

PC Robert Slater, of Camden Police, said the van started rolling down the hill because its handbrake failed. “The dustbin lorry driver had seen this unfolding and blocked the path of the van, causing it to stop,” said the police officer.

“The actions of the dustbin lorry driver potentially prevented death or serious injury.”

Mr Dias, who works for Veolia Environmental Services, the company that collects rubbish in Camden, said that police congratulated him, but it was the driver of the van who was the most grateful.

“When I spoke to him he was in shock because someone could have been killed,” said the binman. “He was almost in tears.I am just happy that no-one was hurt. That’s the main thing.”

Royal Mail confirmed that the runaway vehicle was one their post vans and they are investigating the cause of the incident.

A spokeswoman said: “We are still investigating the reasons behind it. Thankfully there were no serious injuries.

“Health and safety is very important to us and that is why we’re investigating. We don’t know what the cause is and we apologise for what happened.”

The Health and Safety Executive has not as yet launched an investigation into the incident.

Pascal Hauret, of Veolia Environmental Services, said: “Due to Jose’s quick manoeuvre an accident was prevented at a busy junction where a lot of pedestrians cross the road.

“We train our staff to keep the public safe and Jose is a shining example of this.”

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