A FAMILY say they are lucky to be alive after a concrete canopy above their front door crashed to the ground when relations called in to see them.
The heavy canopy, a feature of many Sunderland homes, crashed almost 7ft to the floor when Tracey Smith, 40, knocked on the door of her daughter’s Pennywell home with partner Paul Hill, 34.
Tracey, broke her foot but Paul, of Millfield, said it was only his quick reactions that prevented the accident from being more serious.
He said: “I knocked on the door and suddenly something just caught my eye and I just saw this concrete slab falling to the floor.
“I pulled Tracey back and it fell to our feet.
“It was frightening because otherwise it would have landed right on our heads and that really would have been it. I genuinely think we would have died.”
Paul managed to pull Tracey to safety, but the canopy caught her leg and foot, causing it to break.
Paramedics were called to the home, in Penistone Road, where Tracey received medical attention before being taken to Sunderland Royal Hospital for further treatment to her foot and leg.
Paul said he managed to escape with a graze to his foot.
The accident took place last week and has left the family shocked but thankful that the children were not caught under the concrete.
Paul said: “It was so heavy that it smashed the doorsteps. If any of the bairns had been there, they would definitely be dead now.”
Jemma Bernardi, 23, who is six-months pregnant with her third child and who moved into the gentoo-owned property in September with her children Leon, one, and Jack, two, and partrner Ray Begg, 30, said: “I was upstairs and I heard this really loud bang.
“I came downstairs and saw it and just couldn’t believe it. I was shaking and everything, it was such a horrible shock.
“I’m pregnant and my two-year-old is in and out of that door all the time and messing about on the steps.
“It could have been him under there and he would never have survived it. It doesn’t bear thinking about.
“It’s an absolute disgrace.”
Ian Porter, managing director of gentoo Sunderland, said: “Due to the nature of the accident and how recently it occurred, it is not appropriate to comment at this stage until we investigate the matter further.
“Gentoo is committed to high health and safety standards at all times and take all matters of this nature very seriously.”