Attempting to escape communist East Berlin for the relative freedom of the West is nothing new. Coming up with new ways of doing it are but it has been some time since such a dramatic attempt was made.
Clive Freeman describes what happened as a truck crashed through Checkpoint Charlie along the Berlin Wall in an attempt to escape East Berlin.
The truck arrived on the eastern side of Checkpoint Charlie at seven minutes past midnight, bursting through the first barrier and second barriers. Shots were fired at the vehicle causing it to break through a glass partition before crashing through a final barrier into West Berlin. The truck continued at speed about half a mile up the road before coming to a halt.
The truck belonged to a state owned building company and was driven by one of its employees. The 32 year old driver was accompanied by his 28 year old fiancée and their 8 month old child. They were taken to the American Military Authorities in West Berlin for questioning and then on to a refugee camp in West Berlin. The truck was carrying seven tonnes of sand and grit which gave it more weight when it came up against the barriers. When the shots were fired the windscreen was shattered but nobody was injured.
This was not the only attempted escape. During the night a 23 year old man and his 19 year old wife managed to get across the border. These escapes raise questions about security along the border and especially at Checkpoint Charlie which is already heavily fortified.
An RTÉ news report broadcast on 29 August 1986. The reporter is Clive Freeman and the report was introduced by Barbara Fitzgerald.