M42 driver cheats death as huge metal missile spears into campervan

A campervan driver was left screaming in agony and inches from death after a massive lump of metal smashed through his windscreen and into his body on the M42. The kingpin lock was thought to have come loose from a lorry and speared into his van as the victim drove home with his wife.

The lock just missed Chris Benn’s face after he moved at the last second but it broke his arm in six places and he may never properly regain its full use. The 54-year-old could also be off work for up to a year as he recovers, his wife Rachel said.

He suffered internal bleeding, needed blood transfusions and had surgery at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital[1] – where he remained yesterday, more than a week on. The Leeds-based couple, who were driving from Dorset, were 120 miles from home when it happened on the M42 northbound between junctions nine and ten at around 2.30pm on Friday afternoon, June 21.

Rachel said she heard an “almighty bang” and saw her husband’s arm “dangling” minutes after they had joining the motorway near Water Orton. She said: “He saw it at the very last minute, and moved towards me to his left, which then put his shoulder up and it hit that instead of his head. It went through his head rest. If it had hit him in the face, that would have been game over.

Medics have predicted Chris, a fridge and air conditioning engineer, will be off work for as long as a year due to the severity of his injuries. Their campervan has been left “completely undrivable.” Warwickshire[3] Police urged witnesses, or anyone with information, to come forward as the couple appealed to drivers with dashcam footage of the incident.

Rachel, 46, told BirminghamLive: “It was horrific. We’d just got on the M42, we’d only been on there for a matter of minutes. Our campervan was higher up, if it’d been a car it would have probably gone over the top.

The campervan has been left completely undrivable after the incident on the M42
The campervan has been left completely undrivable after the incident on the M42

“I was reading a Kindle so I didn’t see what happened, I heard an almighty bang and when I turned around there was a hole in the windscreen and Chris said: ‘My arm’s gone’.

“I leant forward to make sure he still had an arm, and it was dangling. He pulled the wheel and got us on the hard shoulder. Suddenly when the adrenaline wore off, he was screaming in agony.

Chris was left seriously injured in the incident, which took place on the M42 northbound between J9 and J10

“Possibly if it had hit him full force in the arm it would have ripped his arm off. We have been super-fortunate, it could have been so much worse but equally it shouldn’t have happened.”

Emergency services, including traffic police and an ambulance, were called. As they waited for the ambulance, Rachel went into the back to grab painkillers, at which point she spotted the Kingpin lock in the back of their van.

“It was heavy, I had to use two hands to pick it up. It was covered in oil. It must have been coming towards us as it carried on coming through the back. When the traffic police arrived he said it was a kingpin.

The 54-year-old had to undergo blood transfusions after suffering internal bleeding
The 54-year-old had to undergo blood transfusions after suffering internal bleeding

“When you take it off [the lorry] apparently it’s one of the very basic rules; you never travel with it externally, it has to travel in the cabin.”

Chris was taken to Heartlands Hospital in “so much pain” before being transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital[4], where he remained on Monday, July 1. He required blood transfusions due to internal bleeding, and underwent an operation, Rachel added.

“Chris had his operation yesterday, it all went as OK as it could do. There’s just a bit of muscle the surgeon can’t repair because there’s a main artery underneath it. He might not ever get his arm back to go over his head, and his job involves that so it’s horrendous. They said nine to 12 months he’ll be out of work.”

The Kingpin lock which went crashing through the windscreen
The Kingpin lock which went crashing through the windscreen

Rachel added: “If this guy [lorry driver] has reached his destination, he might be sat at home driving himself insane thinking he’s killed someone. It was awful, but it could have been worse. It’s going to affect our lives for a long, long time but I don’t want someone else’s life affected as well; worrying himself to death thinking he’s killed someone.

“I’m appealing for anyone who was on that stretch of road at that time and with dashcam footage to come forward, then we’ve got somewhere to start. We just want to understand what’s gone wrong.”

More by Stephanie Balloo

Warwickshire Police confirmed it was investigating the incident. It said: “We’re investigating an incident where an object went through a campervan window causing serious injury to the shoulder of the driver. The driver – a man in his 50s – went to hospital with his injuries. The incident was reported to police at 2.50pm on June 21.

“Any witnesses or anyone with information can go to Tell us something you’ve seen or heard | Warwickshire Police[5] or call 101 quoting incident 206 of 21 June 2024.”

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  1. ^ Queen Elizabeth Hospital (www.birminghammail.co.uk)
  2. ^ Moment officer points Taser at suspect after dramatic Audi chase involving helicopter (www.birminghammail.co.uk)
  3. ^ Warwickshire (www.birminghammail.co.uk)
  4. ^ Queen Elizabeth Hospital (www.birminghammail.co.uk)
  5. ^ Tell us something you’ve seen or heard | Warwickshire Police (www.warwickshire.police.uk)