Leeds man cheats death huge metal missile flies through windscreen on motorway

Chris and Rachel Benn were coming home from their holiday in Dorset when the incident happened
-Credit: (Image: Collects)

A Leeds campervan driver narrowly escaped death but was left writhing in unbearable pain when a massive lump of metal crashed through his windscreen and into his body on the M42. The chunk of metal, a kingpin lock, is believed to have detached itself from a lorry and shot right into his van as he was driving home with his wife.

Chris Benn miraculously dodged the incoming lock by shifting his position at the last moment, yet it struck him hard enough to break his arm in six places. The ordeal could put the 54 year old out of work for up to a year as he recovers, says his wife Rachel Benn.

He also suffered internal bleeding, needed several blood transfusions, and went under the knife at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where he remained yesterday, more than a week on. The couple, who live in Leeds, were en route home from Dorset, 140 miles away, when the terrifying incident happened.

Read more: 'There is a bomb on your ward - evacuate everyone' - listen to chilling voicenote sent by 'lone wolf terrorist'

They were heading northbound M42 between junctions nine and ten around 2.30 pm Friday afternoon, June 21. Rachel said she heard an "almighty bang", then saw her husband's arm "dangling" minutes after they had started their journey on the motorway close to Water Orton.

No caption
Chris Benn was injured when a Kingpin lock came crashing through the window of his campervan on the M42 -Credit:Collects

She said: "He spotted it at the very last minute, and shifted towards me to his left, hunching his shoulder up and it hit that instead of his head. It tore through his headrest. If it had landed on his face, that would have been game over".

The couple's campervan has been rendered useless due to the incident, reports Birmingham Live. Warwickshire Police are urging anyone with any information or witnesses to come forward while the couple is calling upon anyone with dashcam footage to get in touch.

Get all the latest and breaking crime news in Leeds by signing up to our Crime and Punishment newsletter here.

Reliving the horrific experience to BirminghamLive, Rachel, 46, said: "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.

"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. 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 responses, including traffic police and paramedics raced to the scene. With their arrival eminent, Rachel managed to grab painkillers from the back, where she saw the Kingpin lock at the rear of the van.

"It was heavy," she said. "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.

"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."

After being rushed to Heartlands Hospital in "unbearable pain", Chris was then transferred to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, where he stayed until Monday, July 1. He was given several blood transfusions and underwent surgery.

"Chris had his operation yesterday, it all went as OK as it could do," said Rachel. "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."

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.

Get all the latest and breaking news in Leeds by signing up to our newsletter here.

"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."

Warwickshire Police are investigating. A spokesperson for the force stated: "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."

Call 101, referencing incident 206 of 21 June 2024 with information.