A Lancashire teenager became a hero to families stranded in baking heat on the M6 when he ran across fields to fetch drinks.
Motorists queued for miles on one of the hottest days of the year after two lorries crashed and the road had to be resurfaced.
But as families sweltered in the giant tailback, Adam Barton-Eccles raced off to fetch water.
The apprentice plumber was determined to help children in nearby cars, and has now become a celebrity overnight after a social media campaign to track him down went viral.
Adam, who lives in Galgate, had been travelling southbound on the M6 between junction 34 and 33 with his boss Richard when the traffic ground to a halt.
He said: “We were heading back to Galgate from Lancaster and we thought we would go on the motorway because it would be quicker, because we had been to the merchants on Caton Road.
“We got on the motorway and we were driving nice and slowly and we turned around the corner and it was just a standstill.
“We waited about half an hour and we thought ‘we’ll be here a long time’, then we heard on the radio there had been a major crash and it was going to be a few hours.”
Adam got out of the van and asked people in nearby vehicles if their children had drinks.
When he realised they didn’t he called his mum, Ruth Barton, who also lives in Galgate, asking her to buy some from a nearby shop.
She then drove to the edge of a field, where Adam met her and raced back with the drinks for the stranded families.
He said: “I ran across fields to get drinks from my mum and brought them back. It was about a quarter of a mile there and back and I ran it all.
“I carried about six or seven two-litre bottles and about four or five cans.
“I handed them out to everyone who wanted a drink, young children first and then whatever was left I gave to the adults.
“We finished the drinks and then we started moving.
“We were stuck for about three-and-a-half hours.”
Adam said his mum deserved credit for the help she gave and said: “If it wasn’t for her we wouldn’t have had anything.”
The traffic mayhem followed an accident at about 2.45pm on Thursday, when two lorries crashed, covering the southbound carriageway in diesel, oil and cement powder.
Adam said: “I thought I would take it into my own hands and get drinks for some people as best as I could.”
His goodwill gesture was shared on Facebook, from someone he had helped in the traffic jam, and received thousands of “likes” and shares.
He said: “I didn’t expect the reaction at all, I didn’t really think anything of it.
“I always help other people before myself.
“People have called me a hero a few times – I’ve had about 2,000 on Facebook saying I’m a hero.
“It’s quite bizarre – she only put in on at 7.30pm and by 9pm yesterday morning there were 60,000 likes.”
Adam arrived home at about 6.30pm after leaving Caton at 3pm and travelling on the motorway as a “short cut”.
His boss and owner of R N Bradshaw plumbing and heating services, Richard Bradshaw, praised his apprentice for the selfless act.
He said: “It’s just one of those things – it’s just what you do.
“There were a lot of people panicking and getting agitated, and Adam decided to go and get some drinks to calm people down.
“It was a bit surreal. There were a lot of people sunbathing on the hard shoulder with their maps out, it was really strange.
“He could have gone home with his mum but he stayed and waited with me.
“He’s a good lad, he will help anyone.”
The crash happened when an articulated tanker carrying cement powder crashed into another HGV with a trailer full of garden waste, which had broken down.
The cab from the cement HGV was torn from the chassis and landed in lane one, while the remainder of the HGV and trailer hit the central reservation and came to a stop in lane three.
The bulk tanker was torn open, spreading cement powder across all three lanes along with diesel from the fuel tanks.
Both drivers escaped with minor injuries.