Published: 00:01, 26 May 2016
People have described the moment the peace and quiet of a pleasant evening was shattered by a dramatic bus crash.
The single decker Arriva vehicle veered off the tarmac in Gore Road, Dartford, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake.
Two cars, a fence and a wall bore the brunt of the collision, with the bus ending up crashing into one couple's house.
Ray Smith, 69, and Pam Weeden, 64, were enjoying the weather in their back garden when the bus came dangerously close to smashing its way into their living room.
Pam said: “We have got rooms out the back that overlook the garden and we tend to sit there in the evening, which was fortunate.
“The noise was deafening to us, Ray said it sounded like an explosion. We ran out thinking ‘what on earth was that?’ and saw the bus embedded into the corner of the house.
“It had come through our next door neighbour’s wall, crashed into their cars, knocked them into each other, and demolished the fence as well.
“Fortunately there were no passengers and the driver was not badly injured. Ray comforted the driver and I called the emergency services, who were absolutely amazing.”
Police, fire crews and an ambulance were all called to the scene on Saturday night. Firefighters rescued the driver using hydraulic rescue equipment and small tools before placing him on a spinal long board.
He was assessed by air ambulance paramedics and taken to Darent Valley Hospital. He has since been released.
Ray was thankful to see the driver emerge from the wreckage relatively unscathed, but criticised Arriva for their lack of response to the incident.
He said: “We are fortunate that we were sat out back and I am thankful that nobody was seriously hurt, it does not bear thinking about.
“The thing I have got some gripes about is Arriva — they have not contacted us to say sorry for our bus hitting your house, just a courtesy phone call would have been nice.
“If you ran someone over out there you would say sorry. Arriva has stuck a bus in my house and they have not said anything.”
"The noise was deafening to us, Ray said it sounded like an explosion" - Pam Weeden
Although emergency crews had left by 9.30pm and the bus was removed in the early hours of Sunday morning, plenty of debris remains.
The damaged cars belonged to Ann Murton 43, who lives next door to Ray and Pam with her partner Sharon Lamble, 51, and daughter Ruby Lamble-Murton, 16.
Ann said: “When I heard the noise I came out and found my daughter being hugged by our other neighbour because she was distressed.
“Both of our cars are going to have to be written off and the gravel is going to have to be replaced.
“Arriva has not contacted us at all, either. My partner tried to call them and could only get through to customer services.”
Dartford Grammar School for Girls student Ruby was the first to see the bus veering off the road.
Her bedroom is at the front of the house, where she was studying hard ahead of her GCSE exams this week.
She said: “I saw the bus crash into the wall and the driver lean forward. It was really loud and it took me a while to realise what had gone on.
“It took me while to process that a bus had just crashed into a house right outside my window.
“I called it a day for revision on Saturday after that.”
Glen Shuttleworth, head of operations at Arriva, said: “There were no passengers on board. We are investigating the circumstances.
“Although the police allowed us to recover the vehicle from Gore Lane, we were not initially permitted to access the site of the incident and therefore contact the residents of the homes involved.
“On Tuesday our insurance provider passed the contact details to us and our local operations manager has now been in touch with the families.
“They have been assured that they will be kept in touch regarding any next steps.”
Every morning at 10am we play you an hour of tunes from the 90s. We call it, #WeLoveThe90s.
Play 'Say It' with Garry and Laura on kmfm Breakfast and you could win £1,000!
Wake up to kmfm Breakfast with Garry and Laura - it's Kent's alarm call.