A driver was left trapped as his van dangled off a motorway bridge above a pedestrian walkway.
Fire crews were met with the Italian Job-style drama after the van collided with a car and came to a stop with its rear end hanging off the road.
The incident happened at around 2.40pm on Monday at junction 26 of the M60 in Stockport, Greater Manchester.
Firefighters made the van safe using a hand winch to stabilise the vehicle before freeing the male driver using cutting equipment.
He was taken to Manchester Royal Infirmary by ambulance.
A woman and a man were freed from the car by firefighters and airlifted to Wythenshawe Hospital by North West Air Ambulance.
Peter Lamb, of Whitehill Fire Station, said: "The van was hanging precariously off the motorway and it was balanced on the edge so the first thing the crews had to do was make it safe to make sure the vehicle didn't drop over the edge where the subway is.
"Once the van was stabilised, the crews were able to free the casualties. They freed the driver from the van and then the two people in the car who were taken to hospital by two air ambulances which were requested by the ambulance service.
"Where the collision happened is quite a complicated patch where the motorways all come together."
Zoo keeper Jo Shirley from ZSL Whipsnade Zoo, Dunstable, Bedfordshire, with an orphaned baby wallaby that is being hand-reared by keepers. Picture date: Monday April 30, 2012. The orphaned baby wallaby is busy settling into her new home - which comes in the shape of a rucksack. Tiny Tilly is being hand-reared by keepers at ZSL Whipsnade Zoo after she was found out of her mum's pouch a month ago. She is being looked after by keeper Jo Shirley who carries her around in a substitute pouch made from a rucksack wherever she goes - just as her real mum would do. Photo credit should read: Steve Parsons/PA Wire
London Mayoral candidate Ken Livingstone at the launch in south London of a poster supporting his campaign to be Mayor of London today. Picture date: Monday April 30 2012. The London mayoral election takes place on May 3. See PA story POLITICS Mayor. Photo credit should read: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire
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