Businessman airlifted to hospital after Dakar crash

Race2Recovery driver Justin Birchall and teammate co driver Cpl Tom Neathway ahead of start of 2013 Dakar Rally.

Race2Recovery driver Justin Birchall and teammate co driver Cpl Tom Neathway ahead of start of 2013 Dakar Rally.

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A HAPTON businessman competing in the gruelling Dakar Rally has been injured in an accident which claimed the lives of two people.

Justin Birchall, operations director at Birchall Foodservice in Hapton, had earlier pulled out of the race with his Race2Recovery team.

However, their Land Rover Defender team support vehicle was involved in a head-on collision while travelling in convoy on day five of the challenge with other support vehicles in the town of Tacna, in Peru near the Chilean border.

Justin (40) from Middop, former Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer Lee Townsend, and retired Army Major John Winskill were transferred to a local hospital and later flown from Tacna to hospital in Lima where they are said to be ‘stable and conscious.”

Their injuries were described as “non-life-threatening.” Their families have been informed of the accident by other team members.

Team leader Captain Tony Harris said: “Our hearts go out to the families and relatives of those who have died in this tragic accident and we offer them our condolences and sympathy. Our entire team has been struck by the friendliness and support we have received from the Peruvian people since arriving for the Dakar Rally.”

Captain Harris said that the Team had unanimously agreed to continue the challenge with the two remaining Wildcat vehicles.

The accident is being investigated by the local police in Peru and the team is being supported by the race organisers. The team is made up of British and US servicemen who have been severely injured and lost limbs in conflict and civilian volunteers.