Paramedics have said it was a miracle no one was killed after three serious road crashes struck within minutes of each other on a Worcestershire road.
While police blamed the crashes on heavy fog and freezing temperatures, causing treacherous driving conditions, emergency workers were praised for their professionalism in handling the three crashes, which all occurred within a mile of each other on the A435 in Gorcott Hill, near Redditch on Tuesday.
The first accident saw two cars collide at around 8.30am, leaving a woman and baby needing treatment for minor injuries and a man in the second vehicle suffering back and neck injuries. All three were taken to the Alexandra Hospital in Redditch for further treatment.
However, while paramedics were still at the scene, they watched on in horror as a serious smash involving up to 16 cars unfolded nearby, with some vehicles flipping on to their roofs and other careering into hedges and ditches.
The paramedics immediately called for back-up while police and firefighters worked to free people from the wreckages.
Nearby pub The Holly Bush was transformed into a makeshift treatment centre, with about 20 people being ferried by hospital minibus from the crash scene to the pub, where they sheltered from the cold and were given hot drinks and food while paramedics treated them for minor injuries, including stitches for small cuts.
Among the injured in the second crash included a woman, believed to be in her 20s, who suffered serious head injuries and was taken to the Alexandra Hospital where she was thought to be in a stable condition.
A second woman from a separate car, believed to be in her 30s, suffered back injuries and was transferred to the same hospital, which was put on alert in a bid to cope with the sudden influx of patients.
However, while crews were working flat out to treat the injured, a third accident took place further up the road involving around another four cars, which again left several passengers needing attention for minor injuries.
Incident Support Officer Dave Newey, of West Midlands Ambulance Service, who attended the scene, said “In these three cases it is extremely lucky that no one was more seriously or even fatally injured.
“The second crash was particularly serious, with multiple vehicles being substantially damaged and some having overturned.
“I must pay tribute to the professionalism of all the emergency services on scene. They worked hard as a team to ensure that everyone was given the best possible care as soon as possible.
“The trust flexed its resources around the region with ambulance staff from other areas being used at the incident, as well as resources being used to cover for other emergency calls in that area.”
He also praised the landlord of The Holly Bush pub, adding: “Due to the freezing weather conditions patients had started to suffer from the cold and were shivering standing on the road side.
“Hyperthermia could have been a serious possibility if they had to stay outside for any prolonged period of time.”
Meanwhile, officers at West Mercia Police appealed for witnesses to the crashes, which left the A435 closed between Gorcott Hill and Junction 3 of the M42 motorway near Portway.
Both slip roads leading onto the M42 from the A435 were also closed for several hours.
Anyone with information about the incidents should call police on 0300 333 3000.