Monday, 23 October 2017

Car rips petrol pump and walls

TWO families have told how their houses “shook” as a car ploughed into three walls outside their homes and demolished

TWO families have told how their houses “shook” as a car ploughed into three walls outside their homes and demolished a pump at the petrol station next door.

Lucy and Richard Owen were asleep at their home in Remenham Hill when a silver Audi collided with the the 4ft metal railing and brick pillar wall in front of their neighbour’s house and two brick-and-flint walls either side of their drive at about 3.40am on Sunday.

The Audi A6 then hit a steel barrier and petrol pump at the Whitehill Service Station next door before flipping on to its side.

Mrs Owen, a health care assistant at Townlands hospital, said: “There was a very loud bang and the house shook. It was all a bit surreal. I was kind of thinking ‘what is going on?’”

She initially thought burglars were robbing their home because bricks smashed through two windows and their front door as the car hit the front wall.

Mrs Owen said: “I came downstairs and the whole living room was covered in glass and the front door and all my plant pots had been smashed.”

Mr Owen went outside and realised there had been a car accident before calling the police.

A fire engine from Henley attended the scene and isolated the main petrol valves before a Maidenhead fire crew arrived.

Police arrested Christopher Goff of Ardlui Road, London, who has been charged with drink-driving. He was uninjured in the accident.

Mrs Owen says the cost of the damage to their house is likely to run into “thousands and thousands of pounds” but she is pleased the driver emerged unscathed.

“I can’t believe he got out of the car alive,” she said. “He’s a very, very lucky man.”

Neighbour Peter Forrester said he thought there had been an earthquake.

Mr Forrester, 63, said: “It shook the house. When you are woken up with a big bang you think ‘what is going on?’ and that is frightening. Then there are a few minutes of uncertainty until one goes outside and sees what had happened. It was shocking but there was relief that no one had been hurt.”

His daughter, Emily, 23, was asleep in her bedroom facing away from the road but was still woken by the force of the impact.

“I am pretty sure it shook the house as there was this massive bang,” she said. “I jumped out of bed and met my dad in the corridor and we didn’t know what was going on.

“I looked out of the window and I saw there was no wall in front of our house. I went out the front and saw our neighbours next door had lost part of their wall and there was a car flipped over in the petrol station.

“It was shocking and really quite scary and strange.”

Her mother, Gini, was in London at the time of the accident and Mr Forrester and Miss Forrester had to remove boulders and rubble from their drive in order to collect her.

“The cost will be substantial when it is all added up,” Mr Forrester said. “Having done all of that, the driver turned upside down and was unhurt which is fairly amazing. He is a very lucky man.”

Miss Forrester added: “He was very lucky he was driving a good car. He didn’t have a scratch on him. I can’t really be angry but it is still a bit of a shock and just really surreal.”

Simon Bodle, director of Whitehill Service Station, spent eight hours clearing up the damage with two colleagues. He said: “It was such a mess. There were bricks from the walls everywhere and tiles on the canopy.

“There were bricks which needed moving, glass everywhere and car parts left behind as well as other odds and sods like bits of the pump.”

The force of the car damaged the steel barrier sunk in concrete which stands next to the pump and removed about a foot-and-a-half of concrete which cements the pump in place.

The garage re-opened at 1pm, four hours later than usual, while staff continued to carry out minor tidying.

However Mr Bodle said it is unlikely that the pump, which was one of four at the garage, will be replaced for at least two months, meaning loss of revenue for the business.

Mr Bodle continued: “It is difficult to know what we are losing in terms of income, we will have to monitor that and it will be part of our insurance claim.

“It is the main pump that the big lorries use so there will be a considerable amount lost and there will be a loss in business when the work is carried out.”

A sign at the front of the garage was also damaged during the accident.

There was also damage to part of the tarmac where liquids from the car leaked.

“The cost of repairing the damage will run into tens of thousands of pounds, especially by the time you take into consideration our two neighbours as well,” Mr Bodle said.

“I am glad no one was hurt.”

Nigel Williams, who lives opposite the petrol station, was woken up by the noise of the crash.

He says he initially thought the bang was a clap of thunder.

“At half past three in the morning you are a bit shocked to be woken up like that,” he said. “There was a lot of shouting and all sorts of commotion.”

Police said Mr Goff, 36, had been bailed to appear at Reading Magistrates’ Court on August 5.

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