Van driver focused on sons during river escape

Thursday 6th February 2014 12:00 am
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THE driver of a van which plunged into the fast-flowing River Tamar has told how he focused on his two young sons as he escaped from the vehicle.

Dan Behennah, 30, was approaching the bridge near Gunnislake on Newbridge Hill when he says he thinks his van hit a patch of ice.

'It was icy that morning and as I put my brakes on the van just kept going. It hit the corner of the bridge – I tried to steer away but went straight through the wall and nose-dived into the water,' he said.

'With the water coming towards me I just thought that was it,' said Dan, who had been on his way to pick up his sons Freddie, two, and Max, one, when the accident happened.

With the van being swept along the river and rapidly submerging, Dan says he knew he had to escape before it went under completely.

Having got out of the van, Dan battled against the current and hauled himself out using an overhanging branch, ignoring the pain from a broken collarbone, and walked to a nearby house, where he was taken in and given a sugary drink.

The 15th century bridge on the A390 is likely to be closed to traffic for at least two weeks while repairs are carried out, said Devon County Council.

While pedestrians and cyclists are still able to use the bridge, DAC Coaches, who run the 79 service from Callington to Tavistock, said that a near normal service is now operating, with passengers walking across the bridge to connecting buses at the other end.

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