Family’s lucky escape

Mother-of-five Debbie Fraser says if the family had not been away for the day, the accident could have had tragic consequences.
Mother-of-five Debbie Fraser says if the family had not been away for the day, the accident could have had tragic consequences.

A MOTHER-of-five has spoken of her horror after arriving home to find a large tree lying in her garden in Tarves.

A lorry had ploughed into the 50ft tree after a collision with a car at a nearby junction close to the entrance to Haddo Country Park.

Debbie Fraser, 31, said the family had been away for the day otherwise her children, aged from four to 10, would have been playing in the garden at the time of Friday’s accident on the unclassified Ellon to Raxton road.

The tree had fallen into the garden of Raxton Cottage, lying just feet away from a trampoline and climbing frame.

Debbie told the Times: “We were in Turriff and I got a phone call to say what had happened. I was absolutely gobmsmacked and just relieved that the girls weren’t outside. It doesn’t bear thinking about what might have happened if we had been here.

“When I saw it, none of them would have stood a chance being in the way of that. They would all have been up there playing.”

“I don’t know how it would feel to lose one child, but to think there would have been five up there.

She added: “The trampoline has been up three weeks and the climbing frame has only been up a week.

It’s just been newly fenced off by Haddo estate to make it safer.”

Debbie, an Aberdeen University law student, said she and her partner Neil Mitchell, would be pressing Aberdeenshire Council for improved warning signs on the rural route, and a speed limit on the approach to the country park entrance.

She said: “It is a terrible stretch of road, it is bad for speed. It is just a straight piece of road.

“You get your boy racers, you get your heavy goods vehicles and then you get the people who respect the road and where they are, that they are near a national park and there is going to be a volume of traffic.”

“But there are always people who don’t respect the road.”

Debbie said the issue of safety improvements had been raised previously when there had been accidents.

She added: “They really need to step it up now, particularly in light of what had happened here.

It’s not just for my benefit, there’s other road users, pedestrians, people on horses.

“Vehicles really should not be going at ridiculous speeds on an unclassified road.”

Aberdeenshire Council’s head of roads and landscape services, Philip McKay, said: “We understand how frightening this experience must have been for the couple and their family.

“Once we have received their letter, we will be happy to arrange a meeting with them to discuss their concerns.”

Mid Formartine Councillor Cryle Shand urged all road users to take extra care on rural routes.

He said: “This incident is very regrettable and it is a great relief for everyone that no one was injured.

“I would call on all road users, particularly those of heavy goods vehicles, to show caution on side roads in the region.”

Councillor Cryle said it was the second accident in the area involving a lorry in recent weeks.

The Ardlethen Bridge on the Ellon to Tarves road was closed at the beginning of June after being struck by a heavy vehicle, causing substantial structural damage. It was reopened on Monday of last week.

During the diversion local people had expressed concern about heavy lorries using side roads.

Councillor Shand said: “I am not familiar with the circumstances surrounding the Raxton incident, but it could clearly have had tragic consequences.”

One local resident said there had been several minor accidents involving traffic travelling to and from Ellon, or using the junctions with the country park and nearby Tanglandford roads.

Friday’s accident closed the road for around five hours.

Two 18-year-old sisters, who were travelling in the car which was extensively damaged in the collision, escaped injury.

Police said the lorry driver was treated for a minor injury at the scene.

The load of scrap metal was transferred from the badly-damaged lorry to other vehicles before it was pulled clear from the garden of the cottage.

Haddo estate workers helped to clear up the garden and remove the tree in tractor loads at the beginning of the week.