A couple had a lucky escape after a van ploughed into the front of their thatched cottage in Maulden.
Val and Steve Fossey were about go to bed on Tuesday when the van came off a bend on Ampthill Road, crossed a grass verge, and sailed over a hedge before embedding itself in the front of the 16th-century £500,000 listed cottage.
Neighbours heard the noise and held the driver to stop him from escaping. They tied up his legs with string until the police arrived at 10.35pm. The man was arrested by police at the scene.
Val, 67, said: “We were in the living room and I was about to go up to bed, but my husband said to watch the end of the news.
“There was a dreadful noise – like an earthquake. This van came flying over a hedge and crashed into our hall and kitchen. If I had left the room I don’t know what would have happened.”
Val and Steve, a 66-year-old financial director, have lived in the pretty cottage for 14 years. They stayed with neighbours overnight, and structural engineers were at the scene today assessing the damage.
Val said: “The driver got out of the van without a scratch. He was still in his work clothes.
“We are not right on the bend and we are about 20 yards from the road. He must have been going fast to go over the verge. One of the neighbours said he ‘flew’ over the hedge.
“Now we will have to find out what the engineers say about the damage. There are cracks going up the wall into the bedroom. I don’t know when we will be allowed back in.”
One resident who saw the van stuck in the side of the old cottage, said: “It looks like a piece of modern art.”
A neighbour who heard the loud crash as the van smashed into the cottage wall, said “I came out of my home and ran up to the vehicle.
“As I got there, the driver was getting out and the airbag had gone off and I saw him look back inside the vehicle.”
The neighbour, who did not want to be named, said :“I asked him to stay where he was - it wasn’t long before the police arrived and the fire brigade.”
A Bedfordshire Police spokesman said: “A 34-year-old man from Maulden was arrested at the scene on suspicion of being unable to drive through drink or drugs and is currently in police custody.”