Video: Family left shocked after car crashes into their Lowestoft home and sparked evacuation over gas explosion fears
17:56 18 May 2014
A family of three were left shocked and dozens of people had to leave their homes after a car crashed into the front room of a Lowestoft house.
Ivy Schofield, 80, was sitting in the front room of her home in Bevan Street West when the car smashed through its wall at about 4.50pm on Saturday.
The grandmother escaped without a scratch and her daughter Tracy Dickinson and 16-year-old grandson, Robbie-Jay Schofield, were upstairs at the time.
But Miss Dickenson, 39, said her mother had a lucky escape as it was only a week ago that she had moved her chair away from the wall the car had ploughed into.
Speaking at the boarded up home today, she said: “If we had not moved that chair last week, I think she would easily have been killed. I have spent the whole night wondering what could have happened. She is very, very upset by what happened and so is my son.”
There were two people in the car.
The female driver of the car was taken to the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, but it is not believed she suffered a serious injury.
Suffolk police said they were treating Saturday’s incident as an accident.
In the aftermath of the crash up to 100 people were told to leave their homes by the emergency services as there were concerns the car had hit a gas main leading to fears from firefighters that it would create an “explosive atmosphere”.
There were also fears the house would collapse.
People were allowed to return to their homes after more than an hour after gas engineers and firefighters confirmed the gas main had not been hit by the car - although the vehicle had only missed it by a few millimetres according to the chief fire officer on the scene.
A structural engineer also examined the property on Saturday to see if it was safe from collapse and to see if its occupants could still stay in.
Paul Dennison, station commander at Lowestoft south fire station, said: “There was the potential of a gas leak and of collapse due to the damage caused.
“There was the potential for an explosive atmosphere.
“The car missed the gas main by only a few millimetres - it could have been disastrous.”
Chris Brown, 23, lives two doors from the house hit by the car with his girlfriend Lorna Gallacher.
He said: “I was in the shower and I heard a big indescribable noise.
“I looked out of a window and could see the emergency services and then I was told to get out of the house. I grabbed our dog and puppy and dashed out.
“You don’t think you would see a car go into the middle of a house in this street. It is pretty unbelievable.”
Sharon Parkes, who lives in neighbouring Tonning Street and who took photographs of the crashed car, heard the noise of the crash from her home.
She said: “I heard massive sound and then a crash.”