A PATIENT attacked a police officer and a paramedic in an ambulance on the M65 before going on the run for more than 24 hours.
Police closed part of the motorway near Blackburn for around three hours as a manhunt involving several officers and the helicopter was launched.
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The man was on his way to hospital in Preston when he became violent, forcing the ambulance driver to pull on to the hardshoulder on the westbound side between Shadsworth and Blackburn North and East.
He then ran off down the hardshoulder and into bushes on the embankment just after 8pm on Friday.
The patient, who was in his 30s, had suffered facial fractures and swelling in a head-on accident in Stump Hall Road, Higham at around 7.55pm, a spokeswoman for the North West Ambulance Service said.
She said: “We were transporting a man, who had been in a road traffic collision, to hospital.
“The police also attended the accident and made the decision to send an officer in the vehicle with the patient and paramedic.
“While on the way to the hospital, the patient attacked the policeman and the paramedic and absconded from the vehicle.
“Any attack on our crew is a terrible thing, and it is unfortunately something we are seeing more and more frequently.”
A police spokesman said the emergency services workers did not suffer serious injuries.
Traffic queued back to at least the Blackburn and Whitebirk roundabout following the incident, which ended at around 10.55pm.
Drivers took to social networking site Twitter to discuss the search.
At 9.40pm, Gary Barker said: "Avoid the M65 between junction six and five. Seems to quite bad, two ambulances on the scene as well as police."
Simon Welch wrote: "Great. Leave site after 13 hours of work, get two miles up the M65 and the cops have shut it."
And Crigi MacAllan said: "Any idea what is happening at junction five on the M65? About eight police, two ambulances and traffic stood still west bound."
Later he added: "Now helicopter and five more police arrived."
Users on the social network, which allows people to write short, public 140-character updates, also described seeing motorists using the hard shoulder to escape the traffic jam.
One, using only the initials MH, said: "Stuck in traffic and currently watching people driving down the hard shoulder and central reservation. Please be patient."
Another, Dave Sammons, directed his message to the motorway police. He said: "People are starting to use the hard shoulder to try and free themselves on the M65 - until they're seeing blues ahead. Hammer them."
The Higham smash, between a Vauxhall and an Audi, left one of the cars on its side.
Three people were in one car and the driver was alone in the other.
Two ambulances and two fire engines were sent to the scene. No-one was trapped.
Firefighter David Harris, from Nelson, said: “Two vehicles travelling in the opposite direction in Stump Hall Road collided with each other, causing one to turn on its side.
“Casualties were treated by paramedics at the scene and taken to hospital while fire crews helped the police in making the scene safe and providing additional incident ground lighting.”
- A 36-year-old man from Chorley was yesterday arrested on suspicion of assault.