A FORMER Midlothian Provost has had a miraculous escape after the car he was driving ploughed through the wall of a leisure centre.
No-one was injured in the incident, at 7.55am yesterday morning, in which the silver Hyundai Getz careered over an embankment, through a metal fence and into the reception area of Danderhall Leisure Centre.
It fortunately avoided members of staff who were inside the building at the time.
The vehicle was being driven by the chairman of Danderhall and District Community Council Sam Campbell, 82 – who amazingly walked home after the accident.
The reception, which would have been manned by staff just an hour later, was totally destroyed in the incident, with the smashed car left wedged halfway inside the building.
There were no tyre tracks down the grass embankment – with the car appearing to have shot straight over the hill and into the wall.
Mr Campbell, who said he was “shaken up” following the ordeal, added: “I’ve had a really lucky escape – the accelerator jammed and I just couldn’t stop.
“I tried to get control of the car again, but it veered away towards the community centre.
“The whole thing happened in a split second, but the airbag and the seatbelt kept me safe.
“The staff from the community centre were excellent – they helped me out of the car and got me a seat and a blanket. They reassured me until the ambulance and the police arrived. I’m very grateful to them.”
Mr Campbell had been returning home after putting out a wheelie bin for his son, who was on holiday.
Asked whether he will be getting behind the wheel any time soon, he said: “I will have to wait and see. As far as I’m concerned, I’m a careful driver.”
One resident who heard the accident unfold said: “There was no screeching of tyres or anything – I just heard a car accelerating and then there was a big bang.
“At first I thought it was the recycling bin being moved. The next thing the ambulance had come.”
As of yesterday, the leisure centre was closed until further notice.
Danderhall resident Elizabeth Simpson, 80, said: “He was very lucky, especially having come through all those barriers.
“The staff didn’t half have a lucky escape.”
Staff outside the community centre declined to comment on the morning’s drama.
Mr Campbell was made a Freeman of Midlothian in 2007, having served as a councillor for 34 years.
He was elected Provost of Midlothian in 1999, having first been elected to Midlothian County Council in 1973.
A Midlothian Council spokesman said: “We’re assessing the building to determine when it will be possible to reopen. We will issue further information when it is available.”
A police spokesman said: “Lothian and Borders Police responded to the Danderhall Community Centre at around 8am on Monday, November 21 after a car struck the building.
“No-one was injured and inquiries are ongoing into the circumstances surrounding this incident.
“The community centre is currently closed while the damage is assessed.”