‘I’m lucky to be alive’ says Leeds gran after car crashes into kitchen

MIRACLE ESCAPE: Philomena O'Brien. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
MIRACLE ESCAPE: Philomena O'Brien. PIC: Jonathan Gawthorpe
12
Have your say

A GRANDMOTHER miraculously escaped unscathed after a car ploughed into her house and ended up in the kitchen.

Widow Philomena O’Brien, 82, of Beeston, said she is lucky to be alive after the devastating impact, which caused an estimated £60,000 of damage and could take six-months to repair.

Mrs O’Brien had been making a cup of tea in the kitchen of her home on Bismarck Street at around 4am on Saturday before going back to bed.

Around half an hour later, a suspected drink driver lost control of the Ford Focus he was driving and crashed into the gable end of the house.

The massive impact catapulted bricks and rubble through downstairs rooms and the car was left embedded in the wall.

Grandmother-of-nine Mrs O’Brien, who has lived in the house since it was built more than 40 years ago, said: “I was just getting settled when I heard this almighty bang. As I was walking down the stairs dust was coming up towards me. I was shaking. When I saw the car through the wall I couldn’t believe it. I suppose I’m lucky to be alive. The loss adjuster described it as like an earthquake.”

Mrs O’Brien, whose husband Joe died in January 2014 after suffering from prostate cancer, added: “Even though the young lad did do the damage, he didn’t mean to do it. I’m glad he wasn’t injured.”

Mrs O’Brien has had to move out of the house and is living with family.

Her daughter Anne-Marie O’Brien, 50, of Wortley, arrived at the house ten minutes after the incident happened.

She said: ”When I got here my mum was very shaken. When I saw the car in the house I felt sick. I was very thankful she wasn’t downstairs in the kitchen when it happened.”

Philomena O’Brien’s daughter-in-law Mandy O’Brien, 47, of Wrenthorpe, Wakefield, said: “It’s damaged the whole of the kitchen. There’s a big hole in the wall and it’s damaged the structure of the house.

“The loss adjuster has given us a rough estimate of the damage. We have been told it’s about £60,000 worth. She is just completely in shock.

“I don’t think it has sunk in yet. She has lived there since the house was built.

“I’m just worried that when she does get back in the house she will be worried it’s going to happen again when she is making a cup of tea in the kitchen.”

Meanwhile, a family member of the driver who crashed into house has launched a crowdfunding appeal to raise cash to help Philomena O’Brien.

A West Yorkshire Police spokeswoman said: “Police were called at 4.36am on Saturday to a report a silver Ford Focus was in collision with a house.

“A 26-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of driving while unfit through drink and was bailed pending further enquiries.”

A Leeds City councillor’s response to the O’Brien family’s request for bollards outside the house has been dubbed “ludicrous.”

Mandy O’Brien contacted Coun Elizabeth Nash (Labour/City and Hunslet) to request the safety measures be installed following the crash.

Coun Nash replied saying the highways department classed the crash as an isolated incident, adding: “I am just wondering, if the council could not bring a large tree trunk to lie at the side of your mother-in-law`s house.”

Mandy O’Brien told the YEP: “I want bollards putting up there. I’m not happy with the response. I think it is ludicrous considered putting a tree trunk outside the house.”

Coun Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council’s executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, said: “This must have been a very frightening and shocking incident for Mrs O’Brien and I’m very glad she’s unhurt.

“I have huge sympathy for her predicament as her home is repaired. Having looked into this, we have to bear in mind that there have been no previous accidents at this junction.

“In general terms, we know that driver behaviour can potentially be as important a factor in accidents as street layout.

“We also need to allow the police to complete their investigations as to the cause, which will take into account the role of the driver in what happened.

“We will of course keep this under review should anything change and Mrs O’Brien’s daughter is welcome to discuss it again at any time.”

FAMILY IN SAFETY MEASURES PLEA

A LEEDS City councillor’s response to the O’Brien family’s request for bollards outside the house has been dubbed “ludicrous.”

Mandy O’Brien contacted Coun Elizabeth Nash (Labour/City and Hunslet) to request the safety measures be installed following the crash. Coun Nash replied saying the highways department classed the crash as an isolated incident, adding: “I am just wondering, if the council could not bring a large tree trunk to lie at the side of your mother-in-law`s house.” Mrs O’Brien told the YEP: “I’m not happy with the response. I think it’s ludicrous.”

Learner driver Holly Ridge, who booked an intensive course with Drive Dynamics.

Leeds learner driver’s battle to get cash back from Drive Dynamics