COUNTY NEWS: Family's shock after lorry smashes into home

A father has spoken of his family's shock and horror after a lorry smashed into the front of their home.

Ricky and Sharon outside their home in Bolney Road, Ansty
Ricky and Sharon outside their home in Bolney Road, Ansty

The crash happened just one day after their £180,000 renovation project was completed on the house in Bolney Road, Ansty, near Haywards Heath.

Ricky, 43, lives at the home with his wife Sharon, 42, and son Nathaniel, 11.

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His wife’s grandparents, both in their nineties, were in the front room of the home when the crash happened, at 4.45pm on Saturday (June 24).

The scene of the collision. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

“They were waiting for a delivery of new furniture for us,” said Ricky, who asked for his surname to be withheld for family reasons.

“I was working and Sharon was at Nathaniel’s sports day.

“They were waiting for us to come home and our dog was in the bay window. They said they saw the lorry coming towards them after hearing the crash outside.

“They managed to get away with cuts and bruises. To be able to manage to walk out of that – it is so lucky. They are both in shock, it was a massive lorry.

The house was left severely damaged. Picture by Eddie Mitchell

“My neighbour called me at work to tell me and I thought it was a joke at first. I just wanted to know if Sharon’s grandparents were ok. The lorry hit my van too. That is my pride and joy that campervan.”

The family moved into the cottage about four years ago, and had just completed a renovation project, involving months of hard work.

Ricky said they were now having to stay in a hotel due to the extent of the damage.

“It is a really devastating situation, we are absolutely gutted,” he said.

“We were over the moon with what it looked like. We had just had the flooring all done too.

“We just want it to get sorted as soon as possible and get it back to how it was.

“It was a freak accident but we are of course happy no one died.”

A white 7.5 tonne lorry was involved in the smash, along with a black Volkswagen and a black Audi A3 sport.

The driver of the VW, a 72-year-old man from Staplehurst, was seriously injured and was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, police said.

The lorry driver, a 28-year-old man from Epsom, and his passenger, a 42-year-old man from Hemel Hempstead, suffered slight injuries.

Both cars had been travelling east, and the lorry west, when the crash happened.

John Hebditch, 59, of Victoria Avenue, Burgess Hill, was travelling in the black Audi A3 sport with his wife, Alison, 53, sister-in-law, Sarah, 55, and niece, Gabrielle, 21, and their two dogs.

They were on their way home from Littlehampton where they had watched Gabrielle complete a 3.9km swim in the River Arun.

Despite the severity of the accident, the family managed to free themselves from their wrecked car and walk away with cuts and bruises. Their dogs also survived the accident.

John said the lorry collided with the other car first, then their vehicle, before crashing into the house.

“It was pretty scary, having a 7.5 tonne lorry coming towards you,” he said.

“We were treated by paramedics at the scene, an air ambulance also attended. We were taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital and received treatment and were discharged later that night.

“A nice lady brought us some tea after the accident. The force of impact was so hard. It’s amazing how we could walk out alive – the front of the car is ruined.

“We are just really battered and bruised. We feel like we have been in a fight with Mike Tyson. But it could have been a lot worse.”

Dr Tony Mace, 72, and his wife Susan, 71, live two doors down from the crash site.

They had been to a garden centre on Saturday and came home an hour after the accident happened.

Susan said: “We couldn’t get onto the A272 and our road was closed but police let us go through in the end as we told them we lived there. They said there had been a bad accident.

“We had no idea it was two doors away from us.

“They’re a young nice couple with a dog, we felt really bad for them. They had just renovated the place.

“A lot of people had come out of their homes.”

Susan said a lot of accidents happen in the area, and residents have become used to it.

“There were no deaths, which is obviously a good thing, but there is a man in hospital which is obviously not good.”

Tony added: “It is amazing no one was killed and that the lorry didn’t hit the electric post.

“It was incredible how they got the lorry away, I wondered how they were going to get it out.”

The couple who are retired said they are used to heavy lorries coming past, which ‘shakes’ their home.

“Heavy lorries always come down here and it shakes your home.

“The roads were never designed to take the traffic we have today,” said Susan.

Police are now investigating the collision and are appealing for witnesses.

Anyone who saw what happened or noticed any of the vehicles involved being driven prior to the crash is asked to email [email protected], report details online or phone 101, quoting Operation Margate.

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