Photo gallery: ‘I really thought somebody must be injured or dead’ - car smashes into Norwich retirement flats

Scene at Royasl Arch Court in Norwich last night after a car crashed into the wall, demolishing part of it. Photo: Bill Smith Scene at Royasl Arch Court in Norwich last night after a car crashed into the wall, demolishing part of it. Photo: Bill Smith

Thursday, June 5, 2014
3:26 PM

A car smashed through the kitchen wall of a Norwich flat as a grandmother watched TV in the next room.

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The damaged apartment of Kathleen Langford, pictured centre with her brother John Gentry and his wife Susan who were in when a driver crashed through the kitchen wall. on Wednesday night. Photo: Steve AdamsThe damaged apartment of Kathleen Langford, pictured centre with her brother John Gentry and his wife Susan who were in when a driver crashed through the kitchen wall. on Wednesday night. Photo: Steve Adams

Kathleen Langford, 75, said it felt like a “warzone without bullets” when the black Mini sent rubble flying at her Earlham Road home.

The car crashed into Royal Arch Court retirement flats, on a sharp bend by the cathedral of St John the Baptist, at around 10.20pm last night.

Fire fighters and police attended, with two women from the Norwich area arrested in connection with the collision.

The first, in her early 20s, was arrested on suspicion of failing to stop at the scene of a collision and the second, in her late 30s, was arrested on suspicion of public order offences.

The damaged apartment of Kathleen Langford, where a driver crashed on Wednesday night. Kitchen wall.Photo: Steve AdamsThe damaged apartment of Kathleen Langford, where a driver crashed on Wednesday night. Kitchen wall.Photo: Steve Adams

Both remain in custody.

Mrs Langford, who lives alone, was watching TV with her brother John Gentry and his wife Susan when the drama unfolded.

“There was the loudest bang I’ve ever heard,” she said. “The kitchen doors flew open and I didn’t want to go outside.

“It was like a warzone without bullets.

“If somebody had been in there or walking along the front it would have been a fatality.”

Her sister-in-law, who had fetched a glass of wine from the kitchen minutes before the crash, dialled 999.

“There was just this terrific bang,” added Mrs Langford. “I think I jumped up.

“I really thought somebody must be injured or dead but there was a crunched up Mini, a lot of policemen and a few gawpers.”

She said her brother took over, liaising with the emergency services, as she was shaken up.

Two of the building’s 55 flats were evacuated, but an engineer deemed the block structurally sound.

The car took out Mrs Langford’s kitchen sink and left a gaping hole in the wall, but other damage was limited to vases stored under the sink and water damage to the carpets.

Workmen shored up the wall, leaving at 3am today, and Mrs Langford said she was determined to get back to normal as soon as possible.

“I’ve only been here two months and it’s really annoying,” she said. “It could have been a lot worse.

“It’s my dream home and I had looked forward to moving here for a long time.

“It’s not spoiled anything and we’re going to carry on as normal.”

Her one-bedroom flat is without water but electricity has been restored, and the retired administrator said she was taking things one step at a time.

She is currently using a communal kitchen in the building and continuing to live in the flat.

She praised the emergency services who were “absolutely ace”, and house manager Trevor Green who has made arrangements to fix the wall - with home managers Peverel dealing with the structural damage.

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