'It's a miracle we survived'
PUBLISHED: 15:23 21 January 2009 | UPDATED: 10:23 23 August 2010
A COUPLE who stared death in the face as a juggernaut ploughed into their car have spoken about their miracle escape. Stuart Nichol, 47, and partner Ann Hattley were in the first car to be hit by a lorry that ripped through the central reservation and
A COUPLE who stared death in the face as a juggernaut ploughed into their car have spoken about their "miracle" escape.
Stuart Nichol, 47, and partner Ann Hattley were in the first car to be hit by a lorry that ripped through the central reservation and into their path on the A2 near Darenth Interchange in a horror smash that killed one driver and injured five others.
The couple were returning from Gatwick airport last Monday to the Crook Log guest house they run in Bexleyheath after a holiday in Mexico to celebrate Ms Hattley's 40th birthday.
Mr Nichol said: "There was no traffic in front of us and it was eerily quiet for some reason.
"Then suddenly out of nowhere this huge juggernaut and a silver flash filled the windscreen, I put my arm up across my partner and there was a massive bang. We span several times before coming to a stop next to the embankment.
"I remember the stench from the air bags, we were in so tight I had to kick the door open.
"A man came over to me and poured a bottle of water over my face, he told me not to rub my eyes because I was covered in shards of glass.
"I keep getting flashbacks, seeing this lorry coming over the central reservation towards us.
"If it had been a split second later we could have been crushed to death."
Mr Nichol had taken the full impact, the right front wheel was pushed back into the footwell of their Fiesta ST.
His partner Ann added: "I was too scared to look across at him, I knew he had taken the full force and I was scared he wouldn't be alive."
Stunned by their ordeal, the pair clambered out of their mangled car and sat on the embankment in disbelief.
Mr Nichol said: "Looking around it was carnage. Paramedics came, they said not to look in one car because the poor guy inside was dead.
"The paramedic said that after our impact it was a miracle we survived. The front end of the car was wiped out."
Ms Hattley was put on a stretcher and the pair taken to Darent Valley Hospital as a precaution, suffering severe whiplash.
The next day he took his 15-year-old daughter to Longfield Academy via the A2.
Ms Hattley added: "Stuart saw the sign for the A2 and I could see tears in his eyes, he started sobbing. When a lorry comes towards us on the roads he has to slow right down and let it past.
"I feel strange, it's hard to describe, like it's not really sunk in we survived. We have to ask the kids: this is real, isn't it?
"We feel like we have been given a second chance at life and count our blessings."
The cause of the incident is being investigated by the Serious Collision Investigation Unit of Kent Police. Witnesses can contact them on 01622 798538.