DRIVERS around Wigan faced lengthy delays after a man was flown to hospital following a double accident on the M6.
The emergency services were called to the northbound carriageway just south of junction 23 at Haydock Island shortly after 8.15am on Saturday.
Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service crews found a male driver, believed to be around 40 years of age, trapped in his vehicle and rescued him using hydraulic cutting equipment.
He was taken by air ambulance to University Hospital Aintree with suspected neck and spinal injuries.
No other vehicles were involved in the accident, but some debris ended up on the southbound carriageway, where there was then a second collision.
It is still unclear how many vehicles were involved in the southbound accident, but there are thought to be no serious injuries.
Officers from the North West Motorway Police Group closed the northbound carriageway for helicopter access and the southbound carriageway was reduced to one lane, with traffic going north ending up trapped behind the accident and having to reverse off the motorway under the supervision of the Highways Agency.
A diversion was put in place allowing northbound traffic to come off the M6 and return to the carriageway at Haydock Island, while drivers heading south through Ashton faced slow traffic and delays after junction 24.
Motorists heading north into the borough faced up to several hours of delays while the trapped vehicles were slowly cleared. The tailbacks in Wigan on the southbound carriageway began to clear from around 11am.
The southbound carriageway was fully cleared by noon, while the northbound was expected to reopen at around 1pm.