Man, 92, injured in head-on crash with ambulance
AN ELDERLY motorist was left fighting for his life after his car collided head-on with an ambulance answering a 999 call in Tonbridge.
A 92-year-old man was taken to Tunbridge Wells Hospital with what were described as "life-threatening" injuries after the crash in Cornwallis Avenue on Monday. His condition had improved by Wednesday.
Bosses at the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) have launched an investigation into the circumstances of the 10.40am incident, which also left the ambulance driver with minor injuries.
The car driver, who lives in Tonbridge, was cut from the wreckage of his red Mazda Premacy by firefighters and assessed by medics from the Kent Air Ambulance, which landed in a nearby field.
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He was taken to hospital by a second road ambulance crew.
The A26 – sections of which are named Hadlow Road and Cornwallis Avenue – was closed between Cranford Road and Higham Lane until around 5.15pm as officers from the Serious Collision Investigation Unit gathered evidence at the scene.
A SECAmb spokesman said: "The ambulance was not carrying any patients but was en route to a call in the area at the time of the collision. Another vehicle was assigned to attend this call."
The latest available figures show there were 132 crashes involving SECAmb vehicles in 2010, a slight drop on the previous year's 153.
The spokesman added: "Collisions involving SECAmb vehicles are rare but we take safety extremely seriously and are looking into the circumstances surrounding the incident."
SECAmb refused to comment on whether the ambulance had its lights and sirens on at the time of the collision, saying such details would form part of the investigation. It also refused to say whether the driver had been suspended while the investigation was carried out.
Residents living near the crash site said the road had a good safety record since the introduction of traffic islands as a speed-calming measure some 20 years ago.
Hadlow Road resident Robin Stevens said: "Before the bollards were installed, we used to have regular crashes.
"Boy racers used to come screaming round the bend and end up in the field. It has been a great improvement."
On Wednesday, police said the driver's condition had stabilised and he was "making progress".
Anyone who saw the accident should call the Serious Collision Investigation Unit on 01622 798538.