WITH the crash of a falling tree and the smashing of their car windscreen, Venessa McGrath and her daughter Courtney's drive home ended just centimetres from tragedy.
In the midst of the wild thunderstorm that ripped through the Clarence Valley on Monday afternoon, with winds above 100kmh, the tree fell onto the front of their car. A 20cm thick branch crashed through the windscreen straight in front of Venessa, who was driving.
Miraculously it skewered the car between the pair. Courtney was lucky she had bent down to get something from her bag as the limb passed between them.
Meanwhile on Eight Mile Ln, another driver had a lucky escape as a stick passed through his windscreen, narrowly missing him.
Venessa had just picked up Courtney from TAFE and the pair was travelling on Kangaroo Creek Rd when the storm hit.
"It was windy and rainy. I could see branches falling on the road in front of me so I slowed right down," Mrs McGrath said.
"Then I could see a tree coming."
Despite the close call their only injuries were scratches on their hands and a lap full of glass.
"Someone must have been watching over us," Mrs McGrath said.
"My daughter was leaning down, getting something out of her bag. If she was sitting upright the tree would have got her.
"I just sat down and burst into tears. I think I'm still in shock."
The car is now in an insurance holding yard awaiting assessment.
"We are just lucky to be alive. Don't take anything for granted."
Pillar Valley man Grahame Pegg was driving on Eight Mile Ln about 3pm when traffic slowed down to about 20kmh in the heavy rain.
Mr Pegg said he was third car in the line of traffic when they came to a standstill.
The first car in the line had driven into a tree that had fallen onto the road.
"The driver said, 'I nearly had a heart attack, that thing came straight through my windshield'," Mr Pegg said.
"His windshield went boof, and there was a stick through it."
Mr Pegg described the conditions like a mini-cyclone.
"The rain was flogging down. You couldn't see anything.
"Coming down the highway where the new blueberry farm is there were limbs falling off trees.
"You could only do 30kmh. The rain and hail was so thick."