Motorist in car-dryer near miss
27-year-old Ben Rowe was washing his Vauxhall at the Esso filling station in South Oxhey when he noticed the heavy metal dryer about to fall.
> Slamming his car into reverse, Mr Rowe was able to move out of the way before it came crashing down, preventing both injury to himself and damage to the vehicle.
Speaking to the Watford Observer, Mr Rowe described the incident: "As I went to drive in there was a little light that said 'car wash not ready please wait'.
"A member of staff came out, went to the control box, did something and the light switched to 'car wash ready'.
"The dryer went over my car twice and as I saw it slip I slammed the car into reverse.
"I reckon it only missed me by five to six inches.
"If it wasn't for the fact it was at the end of the cycle and I had the engine on so I could reverse out of there it could have killed me."
In his haste to escape the car wash, Mr Rowe badly scratched his car – damage which Esso has offered to pay for.
The oil giant has also offered him £50 as a good will gesture. Something Mr Rowe feels was a token effort in a bid to keep him quiet after he threatened to highlight the safety issue to the media.
"They're trying to shut me up but it hasn't worked. In my opinion, health and safety checks were not made despite their area manager's assurances that they have been," he told AOL Cars.
"If a car wash is falling down around your ears, clearly the appropriate checks have not been made."
And, since the accident, Mr Rowe claims Esso has not been forthcoming regarding the damage done to his car.
"They originally said they would cover damage done to my car, but they've been completely silent in the week since the accident."
He was also perturbed by the rather nonchalant reaction by service station staff, given what could have been a potentially fatal accident.
An Esso spokesperson said: "We are working with the manufacturer to investigate the cause of an incident involving the car wash at our Sandy Lodge service station in Watford last week.
"Equipment failures of this kind are extremely rare, and the car wash will remain closed until this work is complete and the car wash system is passed fit to return to operation."