Nightmare on Elm Drive

The scene when a big tree branch struck a car at Elm Drive on Wednesday.

A Tumut couple avoided death by milliseconds when a massive tree branch struck their car on Elm Drive in Tumut on Wednesday.

Steven and Jennifer Thomas were driving their Ford Fiesta along Elm Drive at about 10.10am when the branch broke off an elm tree about 20 metres from the ground, struck the ground, ripping a hole in a fence in the process, then landing on and largely crushing the rear of the car.   

“We heard a great big bang and the airbags went off,” Mrs Thomas said.

“If we had been a second slower, we wouldn’t be here,” Mr Thomas said.

The couple were miraculously unscathed. Police, fire and council crews were soon on the scene, and the road was completely blocked.

Mr Thomas said he couldn’t open his (driver’s) door so he and Mrs Thomas both exited the car via the front passenger door.  

“It started smoking, so that was a bit of a worry,” he said.

“It was a sedan, now it’s a hatchback.”

Although the couple could consider themselves unlucky that the branch hit their car, to say it could have been worse would be putting it mildly.

“We usually have two or three kids in the back of the car, so it could have been very different,” Mr Thomas said.

This was not the first time he has had a narrow escape while behind the wheel of a car.

“About 20 years ago, a car ran into my door but I survived,” he said.

“I don’t like the idea of three strikes and you’re out.”

The couple had been on their way to buy groceries, and decided to have a look at the rising Tumut River on the way. Fortunately, the car was insured, and they have another car. 

Workers cut the branch up and removed it to reopen the road.

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