RELIVING miracle escape trauma

NDET 99000'Michael Heathcote and wife Brenda still happy to be alive after his near death experience as a postman 20 years ago.

NDET 99000'Michael Heathcote and wife Brenda still happy to be alive after his near death experience as a postman 20 years ago.

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A FORMER postman who cheated death when a lorry toppled on top of him has revealed he still has flashbacks to that fateful day 20 years.

A FORMER postman who cheated death when a lorry toppled on top of him has revealed he still has flashbacks to that fateful day 20 years.

Michael Heathcote after had a near death experience as a postman 20 years ago.

Michael Heathcote after had a near death experience as a postman 20 years ago.

Swanwick man Michael Heathcote was declared the luckiest man alive, after escaping death when a truck containing 14 tonnes of paper toppled on top of the postbox he was emptying in Higham.

The postbox took the brunt of the truck and Michael managed to escape.

This week on the 20th anniversary of the crash, he told how the 11ft lorry lost control as it went around the tight corner outside the village post office on May 6, 1992, ending up on its side.

Had Michael remained in his nearby Royal Mail van for a few more seconds he would have been flattened as the truck also crushed his van.

Michael escaped with injuries to his ankle, wrist and chest and was knocked unconscious, but is grateful to this day to be alive after his brush with death.

Michael said: “It was a lottery win that was!

“I was just concentrating on emptying the post box.

“All I saw when I dived past the postbox was the driver coming through the windscreen.

“I still have flashbacks about it – and if I see a lorry driving down the side of me, I am very wary of it!”

Michael, who worked out of the Somercotes depot of the Post Office for 35 years, was 51 at the time.

For the remaining 20 years of his career he parked his van further up the road whenever he had to empty the Higham corner postbox, situated in a gully at the side of the A61.

Michael recalled he had got out of his brand new J-registration van and stooped to empty the box. Onlookers said the load of the lorry’s container shifted, causing it to lose control and plough straight over the top of the Vauxhall van.

As the lorry landed on its side, Michael dived to the side of the postbox, which took most of the weight of the truck’s container and saved him from being crushed.

His wife of 46 years Brenda only found out what had happened when she went to the Somercotes sorting office to pick Michael up from work, as she did most days. Her brother, who also worked there, whisked her to the scene.

Speaking this week, Brenda believes the shock of the incident caused her type one diabetes.

She revealed how he was in the newspapers at the time. “I cried my eyes out when I went to buy the paper in the shop,” she said.

“We have no children you see, and when you have no children you have no-one else to divide your love between you see – we are very close.”

Michael came home from hospital that night despite his injuries.

He never met the lorry driver Ronald Longson, of Inkersall, Chesterfield, who was 56 at the time and escaped unhurt, but has often thought about getting in touch.