A VAN driver and his son say they were ‘lucky to escape’ after a three-tonne oak tree toppled onto their vehicle as high winds hit the county on Saturday afternoon.

David Crisp, a lift engineer from Verwood, was with son Adam, 26, when the tree hit the van on the B3081 Verwood Road near Ringwood.

It happened just hours after another, smaller tree fell onto the road close to the entrance of Somerley Park.

The Ellingham Show was due to take place at the park on Saturday. Thousands of people would have attended the event, which was cancelled last week over fears visitors and livestock could be at risk because of the weather.

Mr Crisp said he saw the tree beginning to fall as he drove around a corner.

“I was braking when we hit it,” he said.

“The most damage was caused to the passenger side, which is where my son was sitting. He’s got quite a few cuts and bruises on his arm.

“Luckily, it wasn’t anything more serious than that, which is what matters. If you can walk away, that’s the most important thing.”

Mr Crisp spends lots of time on the roads, and said “instinct” kicked in when he saw the tree beginning to fall.

“There were two choices – either I put my foot down, and it could have fallen on the middle of the van, or I tried to brake in time. I knew I was going to hit it anyway,” he said.

“The thing that concerns me is another tree had fallen 20 feet up the road – we passed them clearing it away as we went to Southampton.”

Mr Crisp said he understands the trees are the responsibility of Dorset Council. Smaller trees which would have acted as a windbreak for the oaks have recently been cleared, he said.

“Those oak trees have been there for donkey’s years, but all of a sudden two go in the same day,” he said.

“I think there are another ten there which look wobbly too.

“This all could have been a lot worse, particularly if I’d been going 10mph faster or if I was in a little car.

“The van has a bulkhead in between the seats, and it gave the roof a lot of extra support.

“Otherwise I think this could have been quite nasty.”

The van, which Mr Crisp uses for work, was written off by the tree.

“I reckon that oak was three tonnes. It came up with all the roots – it just suddenly went over,” he said. “It was an absolutely huge tree. We’re lucky.”