“I WAS lucky to escape with my life.”
Those were the words of Wendy Lenihan, 73, who was driving her beloved Nissan Almera Tino along Romsey Bypass when a tree fell on it, crushing the bonnet and engine.
Wendy was one of two drivers whose cars were hit by falling trees in the Romsey area during the St Valentine’s Day storm.
A stunned Wendy said: “I was driving along and all of a sudden the car came to a stop and this huge tree was on top of my car.
“I thought that the car was catching fire, because there was smoke or steam coming from under the bonnet. I couldn’t get out the driver’s door because of a branch in the way and the central locking system wouldn’t work. I clambered over to the passenger door and I managed to get out through that.”
She believes that if the tree had fallen onto the roof of the car, she would have been killed.
“I was very lucky to escape with my life. If I’d have been a second earlier driving home, I would have been a goner,” she said.
Wendy, who was returning home to East Wellow after rehearsals with Romsey Ladies Choir, was badly shaken by the incident, which happened near the Broadlands roundabout at about 9.15pm on Friday.
She suffered bruising to her chest, both airbags inflated on impact, and she has had pains in her legs since the accident.
Once out of her car, Wendy flagged down a passing motorist, who called the police.
A private ambulance stopped at the scene and its staff treated Wendy until a South Central Ambulance crew arrived.
“It wasn’t until I got into the ambulance that I realised my hair was full of glass from the shattered windscreen,” she said.
“My blood pressure went through the roof and I had to wait in the ambulance for about an hour until my it came down.
“The ambulance crew wanted to take me to hospital, but I declined. I was cold and all I wanted to do was go home and have a cup of tea,” said Wendy, whose husband, Robbie, quickly made his way to the scene after hearing about the accident.
Wendy was full of praise for the emergency services and the lady who alerted police officers to the fallen tree.
She said her nine-year-old Nissan, now bound for the scrapyard, was her pride and joy.
“I loved that car. My husband had said to me a couple of years ago about getting rid of it, but I wouldn’t,” she said.
Her husband explained that the car was only a piece of metal and replaceable unlike his wife.
“She was very, very lucky indeed. It makes me go cold thinking about what could have happened,” said Robbie.
About four hours earlier, a Romsey man also had a lucky escape when a tree was blown on to his car near the Potters Heron Hotel at Ampfield.
The man, his thirties, escaped with minor injuries.
Romsey’s Inspector Jackie Willson said: “The tree landed on the roof of his vehicle and he managed to drive it out from beneath the fallen tree. He had a very lucky escape.”
Numerous fallen trees blocked roads across the area and train services were suspended between Romsey and Salisbury for much of Saturday because of blockages on the track in the Dean area.
Amongst roads closeds were the A3090 at Ampfield, Ryedown Lane at East Wellow, Salisbury Road and Tanners Lane at Shootash, Back Lane at Mottisfont, Branches Lane and Bunny Lane at Sherfield English, Luzborough Lane at Romsey, the A3057 at Stockbridge and A36 at West Wellow. Some homes and businesses in the Greatbridge area were also left without power for a time during further stormy conditions on Saturday morning.