A HEROIC postmaster who rescued a man from a fireball car crash has received a national bravery award.

Colin Wales, 66, was driving home from his post office in Trimdon Grange, County Durham, on the A68, near Darlington, when he saw a Renault Clio career across the central reservation and collide head-on with a Citroen C3.

The Clio burst into flames and the Citroen was seconds away from becoming a fireball when Mr Wales ran to the rescue.

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He checked on the Clio driver before pulling the Citroen driver out of his car and carrying him to safety, with the help of 46-year-old lorry driver Christopher White, from Gwent.

His life-saving actions last October have earned him a certificate from the Society for the Protection of Life, which he was presented with yesterday at Durham Police headquarters in Aykley Heads, Durham City.

Mr White is receiving his certificate at a presentation being arranged by Gwent Police.

Mr Wales, of Bolam, near Darlington, described the dramatic rescue of the 60-yearold Citroen driver, whose feet were trapped under the brake, clutch and accelerator pedals.

“I reached over and managed to free his legs and at this time I could also hear people shouting that the vehicles were on fire and could explode,” he said.

“I looked up to see the flames in the engine compartment of the other car.”

Mr Wales said he then grabbed the man and carried him to safety with Mr White’s help. “Some people have said it was a brave thing to do, but it was simply a reaction to a situation where someone needed help,” he said.

“On reflection, I could not live the rest of my life knowing that I could have helped someone and did nothing.

“Besides, two seconds later it would have been me and I hope someone would have done the same on my behalf.”

The Renault driver, a 32- year-old man from Shildon, escaped with a broken pelvis and sternum while the Citroen driver, from Toft Hill, Bishop Auckland, broke his ankles, arm and suffered spinal injuries. PC Ruth Barrett, one of the first police officers on the scene, said if it was not for Mr Wales’ actions, and of the other people who helped, it was very doubtful that both drivers would have escaped from their cars in time.

In February this year, the Renault driver appeared before Darlington magistrates and pleaded guilty to driving without due care and attention.

He was fined, ordered to pay costs and had six penalty points added to his licence.