A man cheated death by seconds when a freak lightning bolt sent a tree branch hurtling through the rear of his car. Bernard Williams had just removed his gym bag from the boot during a rainstorm when the bolt hit an adjacent willow tree catapulting a 10-foot long piece of wood across the road. The branch smashed into the car’s back window – directly where Bernard had been standing - and ended up in the alleyway next to the house after taking a tail light with it.
CCTV footage taken on the property’s security camera shows Bernard arriving back home in torrential rain and then grabbing his gym bag before running towards the front door of the house. But just four seconds after leaving the car there is a massive flash as lighting hits the tree and blows it apart. Jagged pieces of wood flew across the road hitting the car and neighbouring houses.
Bernard, 55, initially thought the explosion on Wednesday afternoon was a sonic boom but his wife Alison, who was in her car waiting to pull on the drive, saw how close he came to being killed. “If he had been stood at the car four seconds later he would almost certainly have been killed or maimed,” she said. Bernard, a comprehensive school assistant head teacher was driving back home in a rainstorm to Pudsey, West Yorks, ahead of his wife. Alison, 43, said: “Just seconds after Bernard had parked up and grabbed his gym bag, the tree across the suddenly lit up.
“There was a terrific explosion and pieces of the tree flew across the road. Bernard was very lucky because a large lump of wood smashed into the car and narrowly missed him.” Pieces of the 40-feet high willow tree smashed a neighbours window and tore off tiles in another nearby house. Engineers have removed the damaged tree remains strewn across the road in Hough Top, Pudsey and Bernard is hoping insurers don’t write off his nine-year-old Vauxhall Zafira when they examine it.
There are photos showing the aftermath here.