Driver thankful to walk away from scene unscathed

A BEAUTY therapist from Goldsworth Park had an extremely narrow escape last week when a huge tree crushed the car she was driving.

Jennifer Oliver was travelling in her Vauxhall Corsa Sport from her hairdresser’s in St Johns at 11.30am on Wednesday.

TERRIFYING TIME – the tree crushed the roof and smashed the windscreen

TERRIFYING TIME – the tree crushed the roof and smashed the windscreen

She was heading past the back of the Robin Hood pub on Lockfield Drive in the direction of Knaphill to her home in Langmans Way.

Jennifer, who’s 68 and runs freelance mobile beauty service Jennifer’s Nails, said: “I was doing about 35mph when I suddenly felt this almighty crash above me.

“It didn’t register at first. I remember looking up and thinking, Oh my god, what’s that? I just couldn’t think what could have happened and I carried on driving for a few seconds.”

That is probably what saved her life. The tree had caved in the car roof on the passenger side, shattered the windscreen and then, because she drove on, must have bounced off the car and into the road. Jennifer explained: “I stopped the car and when I looked back I saw this large tree covering about two thirds of the road. Panic set in and I immediately rang my partner, Terry.

“But I became completely overwhelmed with shock and couldn’t speak. I was incoherent. Terry just kept saying ‘Ring 999’ but I was shaking so much I couldn’t.”

Just then two off-duty police officers came to her rescue.

“They took my mobile off me and called the emergency services,” she recalled. “Still shaking and in my car, they wrapped me in a silver blanket. It was pouring with rain and extremely windy, but the female officer held my hand the whole time until the ambulance arrived.

“I’ve never experienced anything so awful in my life. My stomach was like jelly and I thought I was going to have a heart attack. It turned out the off-duty officers, Inspector Simon Patter and his wife, had been enjoying a rare day off together.

“The police arrived first, then another car stopped and the people put a coat over me. And someone came over with a flask of tea.

“I don’t know when the ambulance got there but the paramedics got me out of the vehicle.

“The amazing thing is that, apart from severe shock, I was not hurt. I didn’t see the point in going to hospital, so they checked me out there. My blood pressure was high but eventually when I calmed down, it did too.”

Fortunately, there had been no other vehicles on the road at the time.

That section of Lockfield Drive was shut for three hours while Woking Borough Council contractors, Serco, safely removed the tree, and a few others they thought might be a danger.

Terry came from work to pick up Jennifer, whose six-year-old car was written off. It was taken to the accident centre to be assessed, but it’s unlikely she’ll be fully compensated.

However, Jennifer, who is a retired headhunter for management recruitment, sees the positive side.

She said: “I kept looking at my car thinking how lucky I’d been. I truly find this quite amazing.

“I do wake up at night with flashbacks about the incident, and I’m scared of driving near trees, especially on Lockfield Drive.

“What is a worry is that I often take my 98-year-old mother in the car on errands. I dread to think what would have happened had she been there. I was so lucky to have escaped injury.

“I don’t think that trees are checked often enough for safety. The relentless rain loosens the roots and the winds make them unsafe. They should be chopped down.”

“I’m so lucky to be alive.”

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