A mother's instinct prompted a woman getting a hair-cut to dive to grab her baby from its pram directly in the path of a car that came crashing through a Hawke's Bay salon.
The owners of Havelock North hairdressers Village Headcourters are in shock after a car plunged straight into their salon, sending customers scattering and destroying their shop.
Witnesses have described a sound like a ''bomb'' as the car careened down a set of stairs and through a barrier into the back of the salon in the Village Court shopping area off Te Mata Rd at about 12.30pm today.
Haley Hunsinger witnessed the car take out chairs and tables outside the juice bar where she was working as it went plunging into the salon's back entrance, across the courtyard from her.
Village Headcourters co-owner Coreen Russell was busy with a client when it hit.
''There was a huge crash and we just didn't know what the noise was - it sounded like a bomb going off.''
''We didn't know whether it was an earthquake or what and suddenly it came through the shop.''
Clients and hairdressers ''leapt'' out of its way as the car took out the wall and the salon's basins, where luckily no-one was getting their hair washed, Mrs Russell said.
A mother getting her hair done acted quickly and swept her baby out of its pram just in time, Mrs Russell said.
''Everyone was in such shock but she just went and grabbed her baby and she got it out of the way of the car.''
Meanwhile, Miss Hunsinger raced to check on the driver and called an ambulance which took the woman to hospital.
The damage was ''severe'' but the salon's owners sympathised with the driver who appeared in ''absolute shock'' following the crash, Mrs Russell said.
Havelock North Volunteer Fire Brigade deputy fire chief Kevin Lay said the car had destroyed about ''40 per cent'' of the shop and a barrier in the Village Courts separating the shopping enclave from the road.
The car had come to rest between two interior walls, Mr Lay said.
It was towed out from the wreckage as a crowd of about 50 people looked on, Miss Hunsinger said.
Mr Lay said he saw the crowd huddle to comfort the mother and baby, who left shortly afterwards. Everyone, including the salon owners, were astonished no-one had been hurt, Mr Lay said.
''They said they were frightened for their lives and were so relieved. They were off to buy Lotto tickets, I think.''
The salon's co-owner Angelique Davies arrived a short time later to survey the damage and said they were confident insurance would take care of it. There had been about six customers in the shop at the time, she estimated. The plan now was to secure the salon, which had its entire back wall missing and its stock exposed. However, everyone was just relieved that no-one was hit by the car, Mrs Davies said.
''That's the main thing.''
A St John Ambulance spokeswoman said one person had been taken to Hawke's Bay Hospital to be treated for minor injuries.
- The Dominion Post
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