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HERO OF OZ; Ulster tourist rescues man from burning car.

Byline: By LIZ TRAINOR

AN ULSTER couple have been hailed heroes after saving a badly injured crash victim from a blazing car in Australia.

Cliff and May Jones from Lisburn were praised for their quick-thinking actions after witnessing the horror smash in Central Queensland.

But Cliff, 52, was scathing of the truck driver who caused the near fatal collision claiming he almost ran THEM off the road moments before with his erratic driving.

A 53-year-old man was taken to hospital with internal injuries following the head-on smash with the lorry which overtook the Jones's car on a busy carriageway.

Cliff, who is on the holiday of a lifetime with his wife, said he was amazed the injured driver survived the smash.

He managed to put out the blaze with a fire extinguisher he had in his car.

But last night Cliff was playing down his actions, saying: "I just did what anyone would have done."

The Ulster couple were caught up in the road drama while making their way to see friends in Brisbane.

Cliff said: "I noticed in my mirrors a huge truck tail-gating me. It was intimidating, as it was only feet from the rear of the caravan."

Cliff explained that within seconds a second truck - complete with 40 foot trailer - appeared.

"He passed me very close to us as well and appeared intent on keeping in touch with the first truck.

"As he started to pass me, he was getting closer and closer to our vehicle - probably two feet away.

"I was forced to the edge of the hard shoulder, now I had no place to go. There was a ditch several feet deep.

"I had run out of road and the truck was bearing down on us, my wife was starting to panic.

"Just as the rear of the truck's trailer passed our car's bonnet, an almighty crash occurred. I caught a brief glimpse of a white Ute truck approaching and it just hit the massive truck head on.

"The truck appeared to be doing a wild crazy dance and there was red dust swirling all around us and debris was falling all over the road. It was all very scary."

Cliff said his wife May was sick by the roadside after their ordeal, during which they believed they were going to die themselves. "We came to a halt and scrambled from the car. We couldn't believe we were unhurt, never mind still living.

"I glanced back at the Ute and shouted to my wife 'That guy has got to be dead, no way could he live through that'," he said.

"My wife shouted to me that the Ute was on fire and the man was still inside, I fetched the fire extinguisher and dashed to the Ute.

"I was aware that the road was full of petrol and diesel and that the Ute could blow at any moment.

"I sprayed the fire and ran to the other side, where the driver was lying. I had to get the seat belt off in case the fire started up again, but didn't move him in case he had spinal injuries.

"The driver came round and I reassured him he would be OK."

Mr Jones said ambulance and fire crews were on the scene within minutes.

CAPTION(S):

TRUCK: Ute like the one in accident; STRAIN: Hero Cliff at scene of the crash; DEVASTATED: The remains of the Ute truck which was hit head-on
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Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Oct 23, 2005
Words:576
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