THE owner of a beauty shop has said a driver who ploughed into his premises was lucky to be alive after driving straight on to a gas pipe.

The driver crashed into The Sun Lounge, on Coatham Road in Redcar last night, Monday, causing hundreds of pounds of damage, before fleeing the scene.

Police confirmed they were investigating after the Peugeot was found nearby.

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Joe Hunt, owner of the shop, said: "It was only 15 minutes after we closed up. It's lucky that no-one was in the shop at the time.

"One of my staff, her three-year-old son likes to sit in the window so it's a huge relief he wasn't there or he would have been killed.

"The driver is also lucky he didn't blow himself up because his engine was right over a gas pipe.

"I'm not sure how much damage has been caused yet but it's not going to be small change.

"We've only been open two months and my focus now is not to let this idiot ruin it and to get the business up and running again as soon as possible."

Cleveland Police said they were called out at 8.20pm.

A spokeswoman said: "The vehicle has made off from the scene. It was found parked up and the suspect has made off on foot. There were some witnesses that came forward with information.

"The car has been recovered."

She said the gas board had to be contacted to make sure the area was safe.