Wife’s tribute to lorry driver who died after falling ill at the wheel

John Cowie with his wife Susan, pictured on their wedding day in December 2002.
John Cowie with his wife Susan, pictured on their wedding day in December 2002.

A lorry driver who died behind the wheel on the A6 Chapel-en-le-Frith bypass has been described as a “lovable grump” by his wife, who has thanked everybody who helped at the scene.

John Cowie, 67, fell ill just before 9am on Friday, July 3, as he drove his lorry down the A6, near to the Fallow Deer pub.

Eye-witnesses described John pulling onto the central reservation in the split seconds before he died – avoiding a potentially catastrophic crash.

When other road users checked his cabin, John was already lifeless.

John, of Burnley, was pronounced dead by paramedics at 9.36am. The cause of his death is still unknown.

Susan Cowie, who was married to John for 11 years, said: “I was speaking to John ten minutes before he died.

“He sounded absolutely fine, and there hadn’t been anything wrong with him before his death.

“This has come as a terrible shock for the whole family. It still feels like John’s out on the lorry and will be home soon.”

She added: “We are devastated to lose John. But we are so proud that, in his final moments, John managed to stop his lorry and avoid a really 
serious crash.

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you to everybody who helped on the day. From the people who directed traffic, to the paramedics who tried to resuscitate him, to Derbyshire Police, and to everybody else.”

Susan said John, who was a dad-of-six and grandad to five, ran his own haulage company and “loved his trucks”.

She added that John had successfully re-taken his Heavy Goods Vehicle test – which over-65s must do every 12 months – one month before his death.

Paying tribute, Susan said: “Everybody in the family called him grumpy. And he was grumpy, but a lovable grump. He loved his family, he worked hard for his family, and he loved his lorries.

“He will be greatly missed by all that knew him.”

The bypass was closed in both directions to allow the air ambulance to land at the scene.

Air ambulance crews attended the incident, but John had already been pronounced dead.

The family are now awaiting the results of a postmortem.