Chaos in the High Street: Waste container wipes out railings, telephone box, tree and letterbox before smashing into house

Smash in Berkhamsted today - photo courtesy of @joelstern
Smash in Berkhamsted today - photo courtesy of @joelstern
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Part of Berkhamsted High Street has been closed after a waste container lorry smashed through and destroyed a telephone box, letterbox and railings before hitting a house.

Police have reported that the truck was also in collision with a bus and a car before smashing into the building near Swing Gate Lane.

Smash in Berkhamsted today PNL-140527-090357001

Smash in Berkhamsted today PNL-140527-090357001

Officers were called to the area to assist ambulance and fire crews at 7am today, and a structural engineer is now accessing the safety of the row of terraced houses that was hit.

Paramedic officer Jim Wood, who was there, said: “The driver has fallen ill at the wheel and lost control of the lorry.

“It has taken out a phone booth, a post box and gone into a block of flats. It went through the front door and about two feet into the house.

“Thankfully the lady that was in the house was sleeping in the back bedroom.”

Smash in Berkhamsted today PNL-140527-090407001

Smash in Berkhamsted today PNL-140527-090407001

The lorry driver – a man in his 50s – is understood to have escaped with slight injuries. But he has been taken to Watford General Hospital, so doctors can try and work out what caused him to lose control of the vehicle.

Nobody else was injured and the ambulance and two fast response cars had left the area by 8.15am.

Writing on Facebook, Joel Stern said: “Probably best to avoid Swing Gate Lane end of the High Street this morning!”

All of the people in the houses had to be evacuated after their building was hit.

Firefighters helped stabilise the building and the lorry when they arrived, but said the driver was not trapped inside of his vehicle.

Spokesman for Herts Fire and Rescue Service Andrew Dawson said the lorry was carrying drainage material. Crews from Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamsted and St Albans left the area just before 8.40am.