TWO cousins were almost decapitated in a horror smash as they drove home from their summer holiday.

John Pluck, 47, and Paul Pluck, 44, were just inches from death after a fence post pierced the bonnet of their BMW after it aquaplaned on the A130.

They both praised the quickthinking actions of an off-duty Essex Police 999 call handler who came across them just minutes after the accident and led them to safety.

The crash happened just ten days after John’s brother-in-law Stanley Mackenzie, from Canvey, died in a car crash while on holiday in France.

John, of Harris Close, Wickford, said: “It really is nothing short of a miracle that we survived.

“The fence post was four feet long and was impaled in the car bonnet, just below the engine.

“If it had been a foot higher it would have come through the windscreen and killed us.”

Paul, of Blackshots Lane, Grays, was driving the pair home from Stansted Airport, in heavy rain when the car skidded just before the Wickford turnoff.

The car left the road, spun and miraculously missed a footbridge, a roadsign and a ditch before smashing into a fence.

Staggeringly the pair managed to get out of the car unscathed.

John, a father-of-two, added: “We were doing about 60 miles an hour. I was just about to say to my cousin, ‘perhaps we should slow down’ when the car started veering off the road.

“Instead of seeing the road out the windscreen, all I could see was the grass verge. I honestly thought I was going to die.

“Everything went into slow motion. I just sat back inmy seat as far as I could and thought ‘OK, I am going to be seriously injured, or killed’.

“For some reason, we missed the ditch and the sign and went into the fence which had wire mesh on it and cushioned the impact.

“It was about 10pm and there were no other cars on the road.

“We were both in shock. We were staggering about at the side of the dual carriageway.”

At that point a 999 call handler, who it is believed had just finished her shift at headquarters in Chelmsford, arrived.

John added: “We were in shock. We didn’t know what was going on, but she called 999 and stayed with us for an hour in the pouring rain until the other emergency services arrived.

“She took us to her car and kept us calm, asking us about our holiday in Krakow, in Poland.

“I was in shock and I just did not get a chance to get her name.

“She was wonderful. Essex Police get a lot of criticism, but I just wanted to say a huge thank you to her for what she did.”

The cousins walked away from the crash with just bruises and suspected whiplash.

John said: “The emergency services kept saying we were lucky to be alive.

“Someone was looking out for us that day.