Trucker escapes missile attack

A TERRIFIED trucker has spoken of the horrifying moment “malicious” thugs nearly killed both him and his wife by hurling a rock through his windscreen.

A TERRIFIED trucker has spoken of the horrifying moment “malicious” thugs nearly killed both him and his wife by hurling a rock through his windscreen.

Experienced lorry driver Tony Purkiss and his wife Marilyn were showered with broken glass from the shattered screen when youths launched the attack on the A14 in Suffolk.

The couple's ordeal began when the driver of a silver Mercedes began flashing his lights and sounding his horn at Mr Purkiss after failing to overtake him in roadworks at Rougham, near Bury St Edmunds.

After allegedly intimidating the couple for a mile-and-a-half, the car sped off - but lay in wait for the lorry further down the carriageway. Mr Purkiss was then forced to swerve when the driver hurled a rock at his moving cab from an overhead bridge.

“It was the most frightening thing to have ever happened to me in my life,” said Mr Purkiss, who lives in Suffolk.

“It was very intimidating and frightening and my wife was very upset. He came so close I thought he was going to hit me.

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“When he got in front of me he slammed his brakes on. He did this for a mile-and-a-half while making gestures at me and trying to get me to pull over. There was no way I was going to stop.”

Mr Purkiss believed the car had sped off, but saw the Mercedes again as he approached a bridge at Ixworth close to the A14's junction with the A1088.

He watched in horror as the driver then stepped out of his car and hurled the object - believed to be a rock - at the driver's side of the cab.

But as Mr Purkiss' lorry was a left-hand drive, he was forced to swerve violently to prevent the missile from hitting his wife - who was sitting alongside him.

“I think he knew what he was doing,” added the 48-year-old.

“As I swerved across the road for a split second I wasn't driving the lorry - I was somewhere else. In that split second I could have hit the central reservation and into the coming traffic. Everyone on the road was in danger.”

Although the couple escaped uninjured, Mrs Purkiss believes both were lucky to survive.

“I was terrified,” she said. “I didn't know what they were going to do when I saw them on the bridge - I thought one had a gun.

“Then there was this noise and as I looked over I saw Tony was white. I just kept asking him if he was alright. He was stunned but he was heroic and was protecting me.”

Police are now appealing for witnesses to the incident to contact them, and have issued a description of the driver of the A-registration silver C180 Mercedes.

He is in his 20s, of medium build and has short dark hair. He was clean-shaven at the time of the attack, and wore a light-coloured hooded jacket and dark trousers. Three other men were travelling in his car.

A police spokesman said: “This was a particularly irresponsible act, which could have had far more dangerous consequences.

“We have had isolated incidents where items have been thrown from bridges but this the first incident like this. This was someone acting with intent to cause harm to the driver.”

Police are particularly keen to speak to the driver of a white Ford Escort van which slammed its breaks on to avoid Mr Purkiss' swerving lorry.

Anyone with information about the incident, which happened at around 8.45am on September 20, should contact Pc Sarah Nichols on 01284 774100 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.

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