A mother who rescued her son, his pony and her dog from a burning horsebox on a dual carriageway said she is “thanking her lucky stars” they all got out safely.
Verity Perry was driving her 11-year-old son Austyn and his pony Pepi to a Pony Club rally at Chyverton Park equestrian center yesterday (10 April) when she realised something was wrong.
“I noticed something smelt weird,” she told H&H.
“My lorry’s restricted to 56mph but the car in front was going more slowly than me so I wondered if it was them – then smoke started coming in.”
Verity kept driving as there was nowhere to pull over, while smoke filled the cab.
“I made Austyn get in the back with the dog as it was so smoky in the front, but the scary thing is, I know how fast lorries can go up,” she said.
“I was desperately trying to get to somewhere where I could pull over, then there was a big grass verge. I went on to it at about 15 to 20mph, which in a lorry is terrifying.”
Austyn jumped out of the groom’s door with the dog, Flappers, while Verity ran to the back to let Pepi out, and call 999. Austyn then held pony and dog on the grass while Verity tried to save some of their kit.
“Luckily, it was the best place to break down if you had to do it as I had literally just passed the fire station,” she said. “The first fire engine was there within five minutes.
“What shocked me was that no one stopped to help. They could see thick black smoke pouring out of the lorry, and a boy with a pony and a dog on the side of the road, but no one stopped.”
Verity praised the firefighters and police, who also arrived on the scene.
“I was a bit disappointed in people but the emergency services got there so fast, it almost didn’t matter,” she said. “The dog is a rescue who we haven’t had long; he was terrified but a lovely sergeant looked after him. The police went above and beyond.”
Police closed the road and Verity was able to lead Pepi to a yard nearby, while Austyn rode his bike and a police officer walked the dog.
The lorry was recovered and Verity believes it may be salvageable, as the fire was electrical, and seems only to have caused minor damage.
“I bought it from my best friend, who died in 2012, so I’m so sentimental about it,” she said. “The lorry is the last thing I’ve got of her.
“It was shocking that it happened; everything is done on this lorry. I take it to the garage for anything and must spend £2,000 a year to make sure it’s ok. What’s odd is that it usually goes into limp mode when a sensor failed but it carried on driving beautifully when it was on fire.
“We’re very lucky, in so many ways. I’m so proud of Austyn; he was very brave, and did exactly as he was told, and if there’s any horse in the world you’d want to be the one stuck on a main road with, it would be this one; he’s so good and he was just delighted there was grass!”
Verity has since been overwhelmed by supportive messages and offers to lend trailers and lorries so she and Austyn can continue to travel to events.
'There we were, standing on the A1, with articulated lorries doing emergency stops, and the wagon just went up'
‘He’s never done a dressage test on a horse, let alone a motorbike!’
“My faith in humanity was lost when no one stopped for us but it’s been restored since, by the lovely emergency services, and all the messages and help.
“I’m just glad we all got out ok; I’m thanking my lucky stars.”
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