HUNDREDS of bank holiday weekend motorists were stranded yesterday as a fatal accident meant a large stretch of the M5 was closed for more than five hours.
A 36-year-old man died in a crash between junctions 9 at Tewkesbury and 10, Cheltenham, on the southbound carriageway after his Vauxhall Astra came off the motorway.
Emergency crews used a crane to lift the crumpled vehicle from the embankment next to the carriageway but the man died at the scene.
Robin Jenkins, 44, was driving in the northbound direction of the M5 shortly after the accident took place.
He said: "It looked pretty nasty. It's very close to where an accident took place only last week. I don't know whether that's just a coincidence or whether it's a dangerous stretch of road."
Traffic travelling north and southbound was diverted along the M50 at junction 8. Motorists who had gone beyond that junction were diverted at junction 9 towards the Evesham Road. Cheltenham town centre was also affected.
Liz Lewis, from Woodmancote, was attempting to drive into town to do some shopping while the diversion along Evesham Road was in place.
"It was absolutely gridlocked," she said.
"There were loads of people trying to get on to Evesham Road at the roundabout outside Bishop's Cleeve."
Police have not released the name of the victim but said steps had been taken to inform his next of kin.
His car is registered to an address in Derbyshire. Fire and rescue crews worked to retrieve the man's battered vehicle from the roadside embankment.
Station manager Nathan Bishop, who oversaw proceedings, said: "Fire crews had to use specialist winching equipment and a crane to gain access to the vehicle that had fallen down the embankment."
The crash took place at around 7am yesterday.
The route partially reopened at around 1pm, but before that three lanes of traffic were at a standstill from junction 7 at Worcester south.
Police investigations into the circumstances surrounding the crash were ongoing.
Inspector Joseph Tierney said: "At this stage it does not look like there were any other vehicles involved."
Anyone who witnessed the incident is asked to contact police on 0845 090 1234 quoting incident 158 of August 28.