A man is seriously ill after his car smashed into a tree.
The A693 at Beamish was closed in both directions for several hours following a road traffic accident involving an X-Type Jaguar just after 6am.
The victim, a 57-year-old man from Stanley, was driving his black car eastbound along the road when the car left the carriageway to the offside, mounted a grass verge and then collided with a signpost and some trees before coming to rest.
Police suspect the driver suffered a medical episode at the wheel.
He is in the University Hospital North Durham where a short time ago he was classed as ‘critical’.
Anyone who may have seen the crash, or saw the car on the road at any point before then is asked to call the collision investigation unit on 0191 375 2159.