A refuse collector had a ‘miracle’ escape after she was crushed between her truck and a van following an accident on the A21.
Rachel Vigar was loading a bin onto the back of the refuse lorry by the Ashdene Service Station in Hurst Green on January 8 when a van struck the 44-year-old from behind.
Husband Gavin, who was driving the refuse lorry, heard Rachel scream and dashed around the back to find his wife slumped over the bin.
Colleague Olly grabbed Rachel, preventing her from falling to the ground, and residents produced blankets to help keep Rachel comfortable.
Gavin and Olly feared the worst as the air ambulance was called to the scene.
But after being taken to the Conquest Hospital, Rachel discovered just how lucky she was.
The bin had absorbed much of the impact and Rachel had sustained severe bruising, a black eye, twisted ankle and a broken wrist.
Rachel, who lives in Magpie Close in St Leonards, said: “I’m feeling quite lucky. It was quite scary at the time.
“All I remember was the impact from behind, then everything was a bit of a blur.
“I was conscious but laying in the road with people around me and putting blankets on me. My vision felt like I had got off a roundabout and everyone was spinning.”
Gavin and Rachel are familiar faces in Hurst Green, Fairlight, Pebsham, Little Common and Cooden, where they carry out their rounds.
Gavin, who has worked as a refuse collector for 23 years, said: “The worst part was when we were waiting for the ambulance service to arrive as we did not know the nature of her injuries.
“When you have got crush injuries like that, it could cause all sorts of injuries inside. She’s pretty bruised and beaten up, but she could have been so much worse.
“It’s a miracle.”
Gavin, who has been married to Rachel since 1989, added: “The van had a great big dent in the bonnet and a crack in the windscreen and a smashed light.
“The bin was split from top to bottom and on the back of the lorry the bin lifts could not be used afterwards because they were so bent.
“If she had been crushed against the bin lift, that would have gone straight into her and she would have gone up with it.” He also thanked the emergency services.
Rachel is expected to be off work for at least eight weeks and will be unable to bake for the St Michael’s Hospice coffee morning as she usually does.
Employer Biffa Municipal said it is providing Rachel with full support, including counselling, as required.
Biffa has launched an investigation and police have spoken to the van driver.
A Biffa spokesman said: “This was a frightening incident and could have resulted in more serious injury, or even a fatality. We’d respectfully ask all road users to be considerate when they encounter collection vehicles and crews out doing their job, and to drive sensibly and safely.”