A DARLINGTON couple had a lucky escape when their car hit a tree on the A167 on the edge of Croft-on-Tees this afternoon.

"It came down about a yard-and-a-half in front of the car," said the male passenger. "A second later and it would have been through the windscreen."

"There was no way of avoiding it," said his wife, who was driving. "The car kind of rolled over it, and it ripped out the front of the car as it went, but our seatbelts didn't even lock out."

The incident happened in the high winds at about 4.15pm as the couple, who did not wish to be named, were returning from Northallerton. The mature tree fell just north of the East Coast Main Line railway bridge.

"It went right across the road, and stopped all of the traffic - a part from us. We went straight over it," said the passenger.

The road was cleared within an hour.

North Yorkshire Police said: "Officers attended the scene and discovered the car, a silver Peugot 206, sustained damage, however the female driver was un-injured."