‘Hero’ bin lorry driver killed as he tried to stop truck rolling towards school

A “heroic” bin lorry driver was crushed to death by his truck when he tried to stop it from rolling towards a school.

Andy Betts “put his life on the line to try and stop the lorry causing harm or damage”, say his heartbroken wife Lesley and the couple’s only child, Laura.

Mr Betts, from Tonbridge, Kent, died trying to protect others at Benenden School, an elite all-girls boarding school near Cranbrook, on November 25, just days before his 62nd birthday.

His devastated daughter Laura, from Tonbridge, told Kent Live: “The lorry rolled forward down a hill towards the direction of a school road and building and he was crushed by the door in a hedge trying to stop it.

“My dad was simply the best father and husband you could wish for and loved by so many friends.

“He loved life and was so much fun and would do anything to help anyone.

“His actions were nothing short of heroic and a reflection of the type of person he was.

“He will be so painfully missed.”

Mr Betts, known to friends as Bettsy, was a supervisor of waste collections for Urbaser, a contractor for Tunbridge Wells Borough Council.

His family said he was a “very popular member of the community” and loved going to live gigs, including those by his daughter’s ska band The Skatonics.

Mr Betts was a darts player who had a “huge list of achievements” while playing for the Kent County.

He was Kent Super League single champion and a Sevenoaks champions of champions winner.

He also appeared on TV darts show Bullseye and mentored young darts players including world champion Rob Cross.

In 2000, he and three others set a world record for the number of bullseyes and 25s recorded in 24 hours, with 445,850, while raising money to send a disabled girl to Disneyland.

England’s coronavirus restrictions have prevented his family from giving him the funeral and wake that he “would have wanted”.

Under the current rules, funerals must have no more than 30 people attending.

A memorial at a future date will “involve darts and music” once the restrictions are eased. Mr Betts’ family has set up a GoFundMe page to cover expenses for the event.

Staff at Benenden School rushed to help Mr Betts when he was crushed by his truck, but he was pronounced dead at the scene at about 8.30am.

The elite boarding school is home to 500 pupils and was attended by Princess Anne in the 1960s.

Javier Peiro, Urbaser’s managing director, said he was “deeply saddened” about the “tragic accident” involving one of the company’s employees.

He added: “Our thoughts are with the crew member’s family and friends at this difficult time. Nobody else was harmed during the incident and we have commenced a full investigation.”

The council’s director of change and communities, Paul Taylor, said: “Our thoughts and sympathies go out to his family, friends and workmates. We are providing support to those affected by this tragic incident.”

A Health and Safety Executive spokesman said: “We are currently leading the investigation into the incident with support of police.”