A driver had a miracle escape after a 40-tonne lorry overturned crushing her car and shutting the M6.
The woman walked away with minor cuts to her hands after the accident between junctions 29 and 28 of the motorway between Lostock Hall and Leyland yesterday morning.
The lorry flipped on its side blocking all three lanes of the southbound carriageway for more than eight hours and forcing thousands of motorists to flood surrounding roads.
Crew manager Paul Williams, of Bamber Bridge fire station, which was called to free the woman who was trapped inside her BMW One Series saloon which was pinned against the grass verge under the cab of the lorry.
He said: “If it had been a foot further towards the back of the car, it could have been far worse.
“For both the driver of the car and the driver of the lorry to walk away relatively unhurt is miraculous.”
Sgt Sean Cunningham, of the road policing team at Lancashire Police, said officers had arrived at the scene at around 9.40am believing they could be dealing with a fatal accident.
They found the lorry, which was carrying a load of frozen chickens, lying on its side leaking oil and petrol.
The police officer said: “Whenever you attend an incident like that, you prepare yourself for the worst, particularly when you see the level of damage which has been caused.
“For the level of injuries to be as relatively minor as they were is quite phenomenal.
“It is quite amazing that the driver of the car and the lorry were able to walk away from the accident, they have both been very fortunate.”
He added that the driver of the lorry had lost control of the vehicle after braking hard.
It collided with the central reservation, punching a hole in the barrier which went through to the northbound carriageway, and spilling its load of frozen chickens onto the carriageway.
Businesses were affected by the delays. Ian Chadwick, from E and C Distribution, Whittingham Lane, Goosnargh, said: “It’s always the case. Health and safety and crash investigation rules now seem to dictate that they have the motorway closed for so much longer compared to what it used to be.”
Around 600 cars were trapped behind the accident and the nearby motorway junction and Highways Agency officials took until 1.30pm yesterday to divert them.
The carriageway reopened eight hours later at 5.30pm although engineers carried out barrier repairs overnight keeping one lane of both carriageways closed.