A STUNNED motorist said she was lucky to be alive after a large tree branch fell across a main road just feet from her car as Storm Alex battered the New Forest.
The dramatic near-miss happened as Joanne Page (58) was driving along the A337 Southampton Road, Lymington, on her way home shortly after 10.30am on Saturday.
Having slammed on the brakes the moment she saw the branch coming down, Joanne managed to bring her Jaguar estate to a stop about 10 feet away.
“I just thought ‘bloody hell, I’m so lucky’,” she told the A&T.
“Had I just gone a little faster, got in the car a bit earlier, just a couple of seconds – it’s Sliding Doors, isn’t it?”
Joanne had already been taking extra care in the horrendous conditions, having been involved in a collision in similar weather in Boldre more than 20 years ago.
At the time of Saturday’s collision, Joanne said the road did not seem particularly busy, although one other motorist stopped behind her to check she was alright.
“I just could not believe what I saw,” she continued.
“It was like some sort of film I was watching as this tree was falling. I could see this flash of white as it fell right in front of me. It was like it was happening in slow motion.
“It was huge. The word I’d use is ‘majestic’. If I had been closer to it, my car wouldn’t have been able to accelerate away from it.
“I’m not a flaky person. I’m 5ft 4in tall, with white hair, and have had quite a lot of trauma in my life. I wasn’t shaken, but I was just completely stunned.”
Joanne said she experienced a flashback to her previous accident as she watched the tree branch crash through a fence alongside the road.
The incident also brought back memories of the devastation wreaked on the New Forest by the Great Storm of 1987, when she worked at the Rhinefield Manor Hotel.
“It was a tear-jerking experience to walk through the Forest back then,” she said. “You couldn’t go through Rhinefield Road because all the trees had fallen down.”
But she added: “To see a tree of that size actually fall across the road [on Saturday], that there were no fatalities or injuries is quite remarkable.”
Following her lucky escape, Joanne decided to quickly leave scene in case any more trees or branches came down.
She added: “What’s so eerie about all of this is that over the last 10 days or so, I had tried to stop thinking of my mortality. It had got to the point where I even phoned up about my life policy to check it was okay!”