A driver of a Renault 5 had a miraculous escape from death on the A23 yesterday.

The car ran off the northbound road at Handcross Hill near Crawley just after 8am. As the driver struggled to regain control the car looked at first as if it would stop at the edge of a 30ft drop.

But other drivers watched in horror as it slowly slid down the bank. The car managed to stay on its wheels when it hit the bottom. The driver, a man in his 40s from Hove, clambered out unscathed and called for assistance using a passing motorist's mobile phone.

The crash caused tailbacks of about three miles while emerg-ency services checked the scene. Traffic officer PC Chris Nelms said: "The driver braked on the approach to queuing traffic. It almost came to a stop at the top of the embankment but its momentum took it slowly forwards and down and the car ended

up going down the embankment. He had no injuries at all and was a very lucky man."

The crash happened about 100 yards north of the Slaugham turnoff. Drivers have been suffering congestion and delays on the A23 because of work to the central reservation.

To avoid more delays the car was left where it crashed yesterday. It was due to be recovered in the early hours of today when road traffic would be lighter.

In the past Handcross Hill has been the scene of several serious and some fatal accidents, mostly on the steep downward south section.

Converted for the new archive on 30 June 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.