A shocked eyewitness today described the dramatic moments before a 100mph police pursuit ended in tragedy when a Blackpool man was hit and killed on the M6 motorway.
Businessman Charles Jones was driving southbound when a police car pursuing a grey Ford Focus Sport drove past him at high speed.
Minutes later the driver of the Focus – named by police as, 33-year-old, Ross Waters – was dead after he got out of the car and tried to get across the motorway carriageway on foot.
Officers today told how he was pursued from South Shore onto the M55 and then M6.
During the pursuit the Focus collided with a police vehicle, which ended up careering into a field, while it is alleged the wanted man drove at an officer who was attempting to deploy a ‘Stinger’ device to stop the car.
Mr Jones, 37, from Milton Keynes, said: “I was going onto the M6 when the Focus passed me in the fast lane with one of its tyres completely blown out.
“I would say the car was travelling about 90mph but it was labouring a bit because of the missing tyre. The police were following it at a safe distance behind.
“It was clearly a pursuit, but there was no sign there would be a catastrophe a few miles down the motorway.”
It comes as police revealed more details of the chase, which involved both patrol vehicles and the force helicopter.
Officers said the incident started when the driver failed to stop after he allegedly drove the Ford Focus Sport at a woman in Montague Street, South Shore, at 9.20pm on Sunday.
She suffered minor injuries.
The car then got onto the eastbound M55 where it reached speeds of 100mph.
At one point, an officer who tried to deploy a ‘Stinger’ device – in a bid to spike the man’s tyres – was also deliberately driven at. He was uninjured but left badly shaken.
The pursuit continued on to the southbound M6 where the Focus collided with a BMW X5 police vehicle, forcing it off the motorway and into a field, slightly injuring both officers inside.
Finally, as police vehicles backed off, leaving a police helicopter to track the vehicle, the driver then collided with a Ford Mondeo and eventually pulled up on the hard shoulder near Charnock Richard services, near Chorley.
The man then tried to flee across the carriageway, but was hit and killed by an oncoming car.
The female driver of the car which hit the man was unhurt in the collision but was left extremely distressed and suffering from shock, police said.
The M6 was closed in both directions for around 11 hours while the incident was dealt with, sparking massive tailbacks.
Mr Jones, who had been visiting a friend in Preston, added: “In my view the police actions were a measured response. At no point did I see them trying to push him off the road.”
Sgt Gareth Hill, of Lancashire’s Road Policing Unit, said: “The manner of driving (by the driver of the Focus) was reckless in the extreme and it is only a matter of good fortune that no-one else was killed or seriously injured.
“I would appeal for anyone who witnessed the Ford Focus in Blackpool or on the M55 or M6 to get in touch with us.”
Anyone with information should contact police on 101.
Lancashire Police has voluntarily referred the incident to the Independent Police Complaints Commission who will decided whether or not to investigate independently.
An IPCC spokesman said: “We are carrying out an assessment to determine the necessary level of IPCC involvement.”