A PUB cleaner thought she was ‘a goner’ when a wall collapsed just 3ft from where she was standing due to the impact of an horrific car smash.
But this was just the start of Eileen Rowlands' ordeal after clocking on at The Bridge Inn, Boughton, some 15 minutes earlier at 6.20am on Sunday.
Badly shaken and having been physically sick, she followed the screams of people trapped in the two cars outside, which were stacked on top of each other and where a fire had started to take hold.
Eileen had only just rung 999 on her mobile phone when a blood-covered man fell out of the top car – a BMW X5 – who she and others helped to the car park where they used his T-shirt to stem the blood flow from a gash to his head.
Then a police officer appeared and together they pulled a young woman out of the BMW who collapsed and was put on a spinal board by paramedics before being taken to hospital.
With the fire in the top car still burning, Eileen recalled: “I heard a man in the bottom car shouting ‘Help me, somebody please help me, don't let me die’.”
Eileen, from Hereward Road, Boughton, feared he would burn to death, but at that moment the fire engines arrived.
Firefighters extinguished the flames within seconds before beginning the difficult job of cutting the man out of the Vauxhall Vectra. He was lucky not to have been killed by fallen stone blocks that missed his head by inches which were perched precariously on the crushed roof.
Now Eileen's attention switched to landlady Alice Lloyd, husband Paul and their children Harvey, nine and Ella, five, who were still inside the partially collapsed building
On re-entering the smoke and dust-filled pub, she found a bewildered and frightened Alice, who had only gone to bed when the cleaner arrived, having stayed up with her friend Rosie Buckley. Despite her worst fears, Rosie, who was still up and about, was also unharmed.
Eileen said: “The landlady was screaming ‘Eileen, Eileen!’. I said ‘Alice I'm here’. She ran to me and hugged me. She said ‘Thank God, I thought you were dead’. She said ‘My kids, my kids!’.
“But her husband was half way down with the little girl under his arm and the little boy he had by his hand.”
Eileen said a woman at a neighbouring house took everyone in and offered them tea and coffee.
The cleaner said it was the fact she left her cloth on the bar that saved her. Otherwise she would have been wiping the table under the window from which she had just picked up two glasses when the wall collapsed.
“I'm nearly 59 and it's something I will never ever forget for the rest of my life,” added Eileen, who has been to her GP suffering from neck and shoulder pains and can't sleep.
“Every time I shut my eyes I hear the man scream.”
Eileen, a grandma, feels she needs a holiday after the trauma but, like the rest of the pub staff, she no longer has a job to pay for it.
She feels particularly sorry for Alice and Paul who have lost their business and their home, which they had redecorated and carpeted having only taken over last December.
“I think at one point she thought she had lost her kids, what a terrible thing to go through your mind, even if it's only for a couple of seconds.”