London helicopter crash: Lucky escape for crane’s operator

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A CRANE operator who would have been in the cab when it was hit by the helicopter in yesterday’s disaster survived – because he was late for work.

Site workers said the man, who has not been identified, had never been late before.

Paul Robinson, 42, a lorry driver, said the operator would have been “wiped out” if he had been on time. Instead, he was still climbing up the crane’s shaft when the crash occurred.

He is understood to have been held up while dropping his children off at school.

Mr Robinson said: “He was halfway up to his cabin, he was making his way up by ladders when the helicopter hit.

“He would have been wiped out if he had been on time. It was a very lucky escape.”

The crane operator, who had been harnessed to the structure, was said to be recovering from his ordeal last night.

Mr Robinson said that he was queuing to drive into the site when the crash happened.

As debris hit the back of his lorry, he leapt out, believing another driver had bumped into him. But as he looked up, he saw a “ball of fire”.