A milkman says he and his daughter are lucky to be alive after he crashed his delivery van into the vehicle of a contractor who was cleaning up at the scene of another accident.
Sean Hawkes, 46, and his 21-year-old daughter Claire were on their way to Mr Hawkes’ milk round in Woodford when they crashed into the van on Woodford New Road, Woodford Green at around 3am on February 15.
The impact of the crash pinned a contractor who was dealing with the wreckage of a previous accident against railings and left Claire crushed by the battered dashboard of her dad’s van.
Mr Hawkes said: “His vehicle must have been parked across the first and second lane.
“But I didn’t see any cones to warn that anything was going on.
“All I remember is this almighty bang and then the next thing I recall is getting out of the van.
“I could hear Claire screaming and then I remember getting out and going to check on her.
“A member of the public was with her and for some reason I walked back to get my house keys. I wasn’t thinking straight at all.
“The man who had been cleaning up was in front of us shouting ‘get the vehicle off me!’ I tried to push it, but it wouldn’t budge.
“He started shouting ‘Get the keys!’ I tried a bunch but they didn’t work. Then I heard his engine start and the next thing I knew he was out and lying on the pavement.”
Bewildered and shocked, Mr Hawkes called his wife and went back to check on his daughter.
He said: “I didn’t know where I was or what was going on. I just kept thinking ‘What the hell is happening? What is this?’
“I saw Claire pinned in by the dashboard screaming, and I remember thinking ‘If she is screaming she is alive’ but then I thought ‘she won’t get out of this’ it was horrific. My head was just spinning.”
Fire crews and paramedics were quickly on the scene and cut Claire out of the vehicle.
Mr Hawkes said: “They were absolutely fantastic. There was a doctor and he said to me that he thought Claire’s injuries were not life-threatening – the relief just flowed through me.”
Miraculously, Claire escaped with a broken wrist, a badly bruised knee and some ligament damage while Mr Hawkes sustained nothing more than a badly bruised hand.
The contractor was taken to hospital with leg injuries and his condition is not known.
Claire remembers nothing of the incident.
She said: “The last thing I remember is leaving the depot. I don’t even remember the firemen cutting me out.
“The next thing I was leaving hospital. Everything inbetween is just blank.
“But dad told me about the member of the public who stayed with me and I would love to know who he was so I can thank him.
“I do feel like we were very lucky to get out.”
The Guardian is awaiting a statement from Redbridge Police.