Car ploughs into BP filling station shop on Southend Arterial Road, Hornchurch
The early morning calm at a Hornchurch filling station was shattered in an instant when a car ploughed headlong through the front of the shop, demolishing a wall and wrecking the interior.
The Marks and Spencer attached to the BP station on Southend Arterial Road has been shut since the crash, which happened at about 8.30am on Saturday.
Staff member David Francisco, 43, was on shift when the car crashed into the shop front, sending a pair of industrial fridges skidding across the floor.
“Everything happened so fast,” he told the Recorder. “I was just organising the cake stand and suddenly I heard a big crash.
“When I looked around I saw the car inside the store. It was so quick I was really frightened.”
The Vauxhall Zafira’s 34-year-old driver, who was taken to Queen’s Hospital, Romford, has been summoned to court, and the Met’s traffic team is investigating the cause of the incident.
“There was smoke all over the place and we all got panicked and called the police, ambulance and fire brigade,” added David, of Chadwell Heath. “The car could have exploded inside the store – it was leaking fuel.
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“There’s a lot of damage to the shop. The impact was so strong the chillers were pushed right to the back of the store.
“There was glass all over the place, and food and flowers everywhere. It was really bad.”
Staff were sent home, although a small number remained on site until the shop could be secured after the destruction of the door.
The filling station is now open to the public though the pay window, but the supermarket remains shut.
“There was a delivery earlier in the morning, so the two big chillers were full of stock,” said David. “Everything had to be wasted.”
Fortunately, no one was hurt – but David said the story could have been very different had the crash happened at a busier time.
“The chillers are slightly taller than a person and about four metres long.
“It was Saturday morning and a bank holiday weekend – but if it was a normal day like a morning weekday, someone could have been killed.”