A ‘MIRACLE’ twist of fate saved a family’s life when their car was hit by a huge falling tree as Storm Dennis raged through Dorset.

Driver Laurence Sanderson said he, his wife and three children, and the occupants of a second car coming in the opposite direction, would have ‘undoubtedly’ been killed by a falling 400-year-old oak tree - but in an extraordinary coincidence, both vehicles were self-driving Tesla Model X cars, which have automatic emergency brakes.

The safety feature brought both cars to a sudden halt, therefore preventing them from being crushed by the tree. Instead, the tree crashed down on both cars’ bonnets.

Mr Sanderson described how the feature kicked in just seconds before the tree came crashing down during the incident on Saturday evening, which happened on the A31 near Vines Farm Shop east of the Roundhouse roundabout at Sturminster Marshall.

The A31 was among the routes blocked by falling trees on Saturday as the storm hit Dorset.

Mr Sanderson said: “My wife’s a bit battered and bruised but apart from that we’re completely unscathed - it’s a miracle.

“We were driving along the A31 and I saw the tree coming down in the blink of an eye. The car slammed the brakes on and the trunk landed on our bonnet.

“Another second and we would undoubtedly be dead.”

Mr Sanderson said the Tesla car - the brainchild of Elon Musk - saved his life “100 per cent”.

He added: “Literally another second and we would’ve been toast. It was huge - the biggest tree I’ve ever seen.

“The other car had four people in it and they were all ok. The odds of both cars being Teslas is extraordinary.”

Mr Sanderson, a financial consultant from Brentwood in Essex, is visiting Dorset for a half-term break with wife Anna, and children Max, aged 12, Isabella, nine, and Rex, three.

He added: “I’d like to thank the lovely couple at Vines Farm, Olga and Tony, who took us all into their house, fed and watered us and played cards with the kids.

“They showed unbelievable kindness as did Gary, the landowner of the site where the tree stood - who was absolutely mortified - and has lent us his car.

“I’d also like to thank the emergency services - police, fire brigade, ambulance and Highways England - they were so professional and caring - as well as a host of people who helped us out of the car and warned us that the electricity cables were live.”

He added: “Both cars are totally written off but the main thing is we’re all safe. Elon Musk has done us proud.”