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Storm Hell

PUBLISHED: 11:55 13 March 2008 | UPDATED: 09:33 23 August 2010

Lucky Escape: kids were minutes away from tragedy

Lucky Escape: kids were minutes away from tragedy

FOUR children had a miracle escape as a massive tree crashed through their car where they had been sitting just TEN minutes before. The terrifying accident happened in Vale Road, Northfleet, as 80-mile per hour gust battered the country at about 9am on M

FOUR children had a miracle escape as a massive tree crashed through their car where they had been sitting just TEN minutes before.

The terrifying accident happened in Vale Road, Northfleet, as 80-mile per hour gust battered the country at about 9am on Monday.

Weather experts had warned people to stay inside unless travel was essential as the storm crossed the Atlantic from Canada overnight.

Debbie Spinks, 35, of Harthill Road, had just taken her children Ben, 16, Tom, 13, Sam, nine, and Hollie, eight, to school at nearby Northfleet Technology College and Sheers Green.

The distraught mother clambered from the wreckage unscathed after the tree smashed through a wall, bounced from the vehicle's front passenger side and crashed through the back.

She said: "I am so grateful this did not happen 10 minutes earlier because my children would have been in the back and almost certainly injured.

"It could have been awful. I really don't know what would have happened to them if they had been there."

It was only after she looked at the damage to her Ford Galaxy - declared a write-off by insurers - that she realised the extent of the damage and the narrow escape her children had.

The tree uprooted under the force of the winds, its roots pushed out a wall, sending the tree crashing on to Debbie's vehicle as well as oncoming Mercedes Vito van.

Debbie said: "I saw a few leaves and twigs on the road and remember laughing to myself because my husband had texted me earlier saying to be careful of flying debris from the storm.

"Out of the corner of my eye I saw the wall bowing out but didn't see the tree. I just heard a huge bang and the tree crashed down on the car. I shouted out swearing but I felt guilty for felling so shaken because I escaped uninjured.

"A guy tapped on the car window to ask if I was OK."

Her mother Brenda Webster, 55, of Vale Road, said: "It was an act of God but I hate to think if those kids were in there. They would have been injured, maybe worse. It is dreadful to think what might have been."

After visiting her brother Terry Aldous, 33, in Vale Road, to recover Debbie returned to the scene to witness the tree being removed. Terry said: "She burst in to tears as she realised what could have happened."

Stephen Turner, whose father lives in the rented house where the tree was uprooted, said his dad was devastated about the accident.

Debbie said: "We all had a lucky escape but it was just a freak of nature and blame lies with no one."

The road was closed by police for several hours. It was the worst incident to hit north Kent as powerful gusts also felled trees in Meopham.

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