THE heartbroken wife of a truck driver today told how her 10-year-old Burnley nephew helped steer a runaway wagon to safety after her husband had a heart attack at the wheel - on his last day in the job.

Richard Beck, 30, of Spring Street, Rishton, collapsed as he was driving south on the M6 near Birmingham and was later pronounced dead on arrival at hospital.

Mr Beck's devastated wife, Donna, spoke of the heroics as she and nephew Damian Greenwood, of Sunderland Street, Burnley, struggled to bring the wagon under control.

She also revealed that on the day of the tragedy her husband was due to quit his haulage job with Northern Ireland firm Lowey Transport after he had continually complained of headaches and stress.

She was in the cab with Mr Beck, their nephew Damian and nieces Alexandra Greenwood, eight, and Daisy Greenwood, seven, also of Burnley, as they travelled to London. Mrs Beck, 32, said: "He was driving to London, then Leicester and I decided to take the kids along for the ride.

"We set off and slept at Hilton Park Services, north of Birmingham, overnight.

"He was going to finish the job the next day because it was stressing him out. He had been complaining the week before about feeling dizzy.

"It was just after 4am when we set off again. Richard asked if I was okay, but then he braked, grabbed his head and said he was dizzy.

"The lorry just swerved towards the central reservation. Richard waved his arms in the air and fell back.

"I was screaming at him and Damian, who was in bed behind us with his sisters, jumped over Richard's seat and grabbed half the steering wheel while I took the other half.

"We were going about 60mph. Damian was pressing the brakes slowly and we managed to get the wagon back into the inside lane. "There were lorries around, but they missed us. If it had been rush hour it could have been chaos.

"I pulled the handbrake and we came to a stop, but I knew straight away Richard was dead. One guy stopped and called the police and ambulance.

"They took us to a motorway control centre, but we got a call from the hospital to say Richard had died."

Mrs Beck, who married her husband in September 1992, said he had made friends across the country. The couple have no children, but looked after their niece Daisy.

She added: "He was a loveable person who never did anything to harm anyone and I just can't believe what's happened."

Mr Beck grew up in Morecambe with his parents, Jean and Michael, and brother Andrew, 28, who said: "I'm stunned. I don't think anyone can understand this."

Mr Beck's mother, Jean McHugh, who now lives in France with her second husband John, but has returned for the funeral, paid a warm tribute to her son.

She said: "He was lovely. He was a bit of a practical joker and everyone seemed to get on with him."

Mr Beck's funeral will take place on Wednesday afternoon at Rishton Methodist Church.

The family has asked for flowers, cards and donations made in his memory to be sent to Rishton Funeral Service, 5 High Street, Rishton.

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