A FATHER has relived the terrifying moment after he and his two children were hit by an ‘out-of-control’ car while visiting north Northumberland.
Shocked Darryl Still, 49, has told how his family’s holiday was turned upside down when they were involved in the freak car crash in Alnwick Market Place a fortnight ago.
Darryl, from Buckinghamshire, had been looking at stalls in the cobbled square with children Robbie, 15, Hannah, 12, and wife Sarah, 46, when the drama unfolded.
He vividly remembers the screeching of an engine and looking on in disbelief as the Ford Cougar headed towards him, as it careered through the Market Place, colliding with stalls and pedestrians before coming to a stop at a concrete and metal bench.
And in a heart-stopping moment, he saw his daughter had been knocked out of her shoes and was lying among broken glass.
He admits they are ‘lucky to be alive’.
Recalling the events of that August 4 afternoon, Darryl said: “My wife had wandered off and my children were at the jewellery stall looking for presents for their friends and I was looking at the beer, two stalls down.
“I remember a screeching of an engine, full-on first gear, full throttle. I turned round and was in disbelief as the car was probably 10 to 15ft away, heading straight towards me.
“I have a clear image of that, but that nanosecond where we made contact is missing entirely from my memory, which is bizarre.
“I then remember facing the other way and watching the car as it smashed into the stall where it ended up.
“I thought ‘oh my God’, my wife was in that direction but she had dived out of the way. She had more time to see it coming.
“I turned round and Robbie was sitting down looking stunned and said ‘dad what happened?’
“There was a little stall selling glass jars of sweets and they were smashed all over the place and Hannah was lying in the middle of that.
“My heart stopped. I ran over to her and noticed that she had been knocked out of her shoes and she was saying that her legs hurt. She had been thrown backwards into the stall.”
Darryl said that a man helped him lift Hannah – who was ‘quite restless’ – to the stage of the Alnwick International Music Festival, which had been running that week but had been moved indoors because of rain that day.
Paramedics attended to Hannah and Robbie while Darryl walked around ‘in a daze trying to find Hannah’s shoes in among the broken glass’.
He says he didn’t realise he had been hit until later.
Hannah was taken to Wansbeck General Hospital by ambulance with her mum, while Darryl and Robbie followed by car, and the 12-year-old was later released.
She was the most seriously injured, suffering bad bruising and scrapes to her legs and had difficulty walking in the days after the incident.
Robbie had bruises around his thigh and knees and cuts and bruises on his face from flying glass. Darryl had bruises to his hip.
While Darryl says that he can’t remember the exact moment of impact, the family have been told that CCTV reveals the full extent of the drama.
“I thought that I had time to react and span out of the way, and that is why I was facing the market stall where the car ended up,” he said.
“But the policeman said that the car came so fast that we didn’t have time to react. It hit me and span me and that is why I was facing the other way. He said that we wouldn’t want to see the CCTV footage because it would give us nightmares for months if we saw it.
“It was such a lucky escape. The car was out of control. If it had ploughed into us straight on that would have been it. My wife’s biggest nightmare has been reliving it and thinking she could have lost her entire family. Six-inches to the right and the three of us were goners.”
The family were staying in Bamburgh but Darryl has said the incident had ruined their holiday to an extent.
They often stay in the village but Darryl said: “It hasn’t put us off Northumberland or Bamburgh, but it has possibly put us off Alnwick, from the point of view of the memories. We wouldn’t rush to go back into Alnwick Market Place, but that might fade and next time we come up we might bite the bullet,” said Darryl, who has praised the emergency services, staff at the hospital and the public for their help.
The incident has sparked a fierce debate about whether vehicles should be banned entirely from the cobbled square.
“I think they need to decide whether it is a market place or a car park. I don’t think it can be both,” Darryl said.
Police are still investigating the incident and have said appropriate action will be taken once all the evidence has been collected.
They have also confirmed that a breath test on the driver, who was an 80-year-old woman, gave a negative reading.