Life is gradually returning to normal for an Uckfield family who consider themselves lucky to be alive after a horse smashed into the front of their vehicle.
Jason and Julie Brice and their children Daisy and Lottie were returning to their Harcourt Close home on August 17 in the early hours of the morning, with family friend Sean MacCarron, after a holiday in the Isle of Wight when the accident happened.
Julie, aged 38, who is known by many in the town after helping set up the Personal Shopper feature on the Uckfield News website, is still unable to drive, writes Cathy Watson.
She suffered a compound fracture of her right upper arm, cracked ribs, a punctured lung and lacerations to her left leg but said her injuries could have been much worse if she hadn’t been asleep when the accident happened.
Her fireman husband Jason, aged 48, was driving along the A26 at Clay Hill when he saw a lorry flashing its lights.
He slowed down and flashed his lights in response but was totally unprepared for what happened next – a horse smashed headlong into the family’s camper van and another careered past bumping into the side.
In total five horses were loose on the road.
Jason was trapped by the dashboard with the horse thrashing around beside him but managed to free himself while family friend Sean, who was in the back, calmed the animal.
The horse was on top of Julie and Jason managed to push it back out into the road. It was later put down at the scene.
Julie was eventually freed from the van by Jason's fire service colleagues who answered an emergency call.
Jason had 20 stitches in his face. One of his knees was badly swollen and he suffered other cuts and bruises.
Sean, aged 44, who knew Jason from their days together in the Royal Marines escaped with cuts and bruises.
Daisy, aged seven, and Lottie, aged three, were not seriously hurt though a piece of glass was later removed from Lottie’s eye.
Sean told Uckfield News that he, like Jason, had seen the lorry flashing its lights and then saw three horses pass on his right with the lorry behind them.
“They were galloping for their lives,” he said. “A second later there was a massive crash and we came to a stop instantly.”
Jason said if the lorry had used its hazard lights and stopped, rather than followed the horses, he might have realised there was a problem on the road.
He added: “It was a miracle we survived.”
He was thankful that the children were in good car seats which withstood the side impact when one of the horses hit the vehicle as it galloped past. “It could have been a different matter if they were in booster seats.”
Julie said there were many other things to be thankful for.
Lottie had been travelling in the front of the camper van for most of the holiday but for the journey home she travelled in the back.
Also Julie was asleep with her body facing the side otherwise the horse would had hit her full on.
She said that after realising the children were all right she had been worried about the family’s Yorkshire terrier Minnie but she was unhurt and still safe inside the van.
“I was afraid that if she had been thrown out in the dark we would never have found her.”
Julie has written about Minnie in the Personal Shopper column and also about the work put into restoring the Lola the VW camper van which was badly damaged in the collision.
She said: “Many people have said to us that the van is jinxed but I don’t see it like that. I think Lola saved our lives and I am hoping that we will be able to repair her again. We are just waiting to hear what the insurance company says.”
Jason too would like to see Lola back on the road.
* The family heard today that Lola has been written off.
Pictured during the happy holiday in the Isle of Wight before their accident on the journey home are Julie and Jason Brice with their children Lottie, left, and Daisy.