A 77-year-old lollipop man was left ‘shaken’ after a hammer was thrown at him from a passing van while he was helping children to cross the road.
Keith Parkinson, who has manned the crossing by North Lancing Primary School in Lancing, West Sussex, for around 18 years, said the incident took place while he was on duty yesterday afternoon.
The grandfather-of-two said the driver of a white van shouted abuse at him when he stopped it travelling up Manor Road in order to allow schoolchildren to cross.
Ten minutes later, shortly after 3pm, it came back down the street and was stopped by Keith again.
As it drove off, Keith said something was thrown at him from the window and struck him on the foot.
He said: “I realised he had something in his hand and luckily I jumped back a bit.
“If I hadn’t jumped back it could have hurt me.”
It was only when he went to pick up the item that Keith realised it was a hammer, measuring 35cm.
He said of his reaction: “I thought first about the kids, the safety of the kids.”
Luckily he had just dropped off one group of pupils on the pavement and was on his way back for the next group.
“Had they been with me, they most definitely would have been hit,” he said.
His foot was left ‘black and blue’ where the hammer struck him – but dedicated Keith calmly carried on working for the rest of the shift.
“I didn’t mention it to the parents, I just carried out as if nothing had happened,” he said, adding of his injured foot: “It did hurt, but I just thought – it could have hurt me a lot more.”
Reflecting on the incident, Keith – who was born in Lancing and lives near the school with his wife of 53 years – said: “I’m a bit shaken.
“I just felt a bit upset, but I can cope, I can put up with a lot of things.”
He said of the driver: “I think he was so frustrated I stopped him going up and going down, which couldn’t be helped.”
Keith has since had ‘very good’ support from the school and the headteacher, he said, adding that parents were ‘most upset about it’.
But Keith has refused to let the incident deter him and was back out at the crossing at 7.30am this morning.
“It takes a lot to put me off,” he said. “Now I’m more determined.”
The former insurance manager said he loved the job.
“I enjoy meeting the kids and having a chat with the mothers,” he said. “It gets me out and about and gives me exercise, too.”
Andrew, one of Keith’s two children, posted about the incident online, appealing for anyone with information to contact police.
He said it was a ‘horrific incident’ and: “A truly disgusting act of violence in a small village community.”
The hammer has now been handed to Sussex Police, who confirmed they received a report of a hammer being thrown at a lollipop man at the junction of Manor Road and Mill Road, Lancing, causing a bruised toe.
The police spokesman said the hammer was thrown from a passing white transit van and asked anyone with information about it to report online or call 101 quoting 1040 of 18/07.