A COUPLE stranded in their car for 10 hours in horrific snowy conditions described it as the ‘worst drive of our lives’.
Siobhan Groves and partner Adam Wooster left their respective jobs early at 3pm from Portsmouth and Chichester to ‘beat the rush’ before suffering their unforgettable nightmare episode.
The pair, along with hundreds of others, ground to a halt in thick snow from Cadnam on the A31 in Hampshire with no idea the situation had been declared a major incident with the military called in.
The only saving grace for the couple was that they, at least, had the comfort of each other as coincidentally their cars were just feet apart when they were left marooned in bone-chilling blizzards that plummeted to -10C.
Their bleak predicament was compounded by the stark reality they had virtually no food, water or warm clothes – as well as no suitable toilet facilities to use.
Siobhan and Adam’s gruelling ordeal finally came to an end when they arrived home safely in Bournemouth at 1am. But only after they had navigated the winding and hilly A31 at a ‘snail’s pace’ after it had been turned into a ‘never-ending ice rink’.
‘That was the worst drive of my life easily,’ said facilities manager, Adam, 38. ‘It was just a lucky coincidence that Siobhan was behind me otherwise it would have been a lot worse for both of us. We would get out of our cars and see each other for a bit before vehicles eventually started crawling forward at a snail’s pace, though that’s being generous.
‘The snow was so deep and it was like a never-ending ice rink out there. We didn’t know when it would end and had no clue what was going on. At least I had a small bag of fruit and nut chocolate to keep us going and a small bottle of water to share.’
Motorists were isolated in the bleak conditions between the Ashley Heath roundabout and where the M27 joins the A31. A rest centre was set up at Copythorne Scout Hut with Hampshire County Council staff providing supplies for stranded drivers. Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service joined forces with the police to give people food, drink and blankets.
But Siobhan said she was oblivious to any attempts to help motorists. The regional operations manager, 27, said: ‘I left Portsmouth at 3pm to beat the rush and get home earlier than normal. I didn’t walk in my door until gone 1am though. According to my car I averaged 1mph over the 10-hour journey. The traffic was crawling along and then it would stop for ages as cars would make their way one by one up a hill like lemmings to see if they could make it as everyone below watched and waited their turn.
‘Some cars would make it but others didn’t and got stuck before abandoning their vehicles. It was comical.
‘If you made it up the hill you then had to navigate down an ice slope on the other side and try and avoid crashing into the car in front. There were plenty of idiots out there going the wrong way down the road and 4x4s going too fast in make-shift lanes.
‘There was obviously nowhere to go to the toilet so I had to go between my car and the lorry in front after they opened their back door so no one could see. I spent a lot of time on the phone to Adam, did some studying and painted my nails.
‘I was so tired and hungry by the time I walked in the door. It was a journey I will never forget – for all the wrong reasons.’