An off-duty paramedic and police officer who stopped to help at the scene of a major car fire on the M11 were sprayed in the face with an “unknown substance” by “dangerous offenders”, police have reported.
The pair, who were part of a group of “good Samaritans” who had stopped to assist, were left needing medical attention after the attack. However, it is not believed they will suffer any long term injuries.
The incident occurred following a serious crash between a stolen car and a lorry on the motorway near Chigwell and Loughton at around 7pm on Friday night.
The car then caught fire, causing a number of passing drivers to stop and offer help.
But it was an off-the-clock police officer and paramedic who were left needing assistance when the drivers of the stolen car sprayed an “unknown substance” in their faces.
The suspects then fled the scene in a white Vauxhall Astra which they stole from a member of the public at the scene of the crash. The car was later recovered in Dagenham, East London.
Luke Collison, chief superintendent for Essex Police, said a “significant” investigation has been launched into the “shocking incident”.
The attack comes less than two weeks after a paramedic in London was flagged down by three men and sprayed with a “noxious substance” in what she believed at the time to be an acid attack.
Speaking on Saturday, Collison said: “Last night, good Samaritans who witnessed a serious collision stopped to provide urgent medical care, and were met by two dangerous offenders and seriously assaulted.
“We are thankful that their injuries are not worse and that no other members of the public were seriously harmed.”
Kevin Brown, a director at the East of England Ambulance Service Trust, called the unprovoked attack “deplorable”.
“Sadly they were in the wrong place at the wrong time and we wish them a speedy recovery.”
Officers are now working to track down the suspects involved in the attack. One is described as Asian and between 25 to 30 years old.
According to witnesses, he had a dark beard and was wearing a baseball cap, a navy blue buttoned top, and dark coloured bottoms. He also had with him a small, black leather bag.
A second suspect was described as white, with short dark hair. He was wearing a khaki coloured jumper and jogging bottoms and was thought be between 20 and 25 years old.
Detectives believe that the incident is connected to the theft of another car from Buckhurst Hill in Essex at around 6.50pm on Friday night.
According to police, two men stole a blue VW Golf from outside a shop on Queens Road.
The victim, a man in his 20s, said that one of the men held a knife in his hand, causing him to flee the scene. The two suspects drove away in the victim’s car.
Officers say that the they believe the suspects involved in both incidents are “associated”. The blue VW Golf has yet to be recovered.
Anyone with information about either incident should contact Loughton CID via 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.