Family 'Lucky To Be Alive' After Block Of Ice, Thought To Have Fallen From A Plane, Smashes Through Roof

A family are "lucky to be alive" after a football-sized block of ice, believed to have fallen from a plane, came through their roof.

Patrick Boyle, his wife Rachel and their two teenagers daughters - Rhiannon, 17, and Aioffe, 15 - were fast asleep when they were suddenly woken up by what they "thought was a bomb".

When the couple inspected what had happened, they found the block of ice had smashed through the overhang of their roof - just inches away from their bedroom ceiling - before landing in the garden.

"What would have happened if it had hit my children? It would be like a huge block of concrete going through the roof and smashing into your head," said Mr Boyle, 49.

"We are lucky to be alive."

Patrick Boyle holding a remaining piece of ice that fell from the roof

The family live on the Stansted Airport flight path in Chelmsford, Essex, and believe the ice fell from a plane.

Explaining what happened, Mr Boyle said: "I honestly thought it was a bomb at first - it sounded like an explosion. I’m from Northern Ireland and I’ve heard enough bombs in my time.

"We jumped up and my daughters were squealing. They were all shouting, ‘What’s wrong? What’s wrong?’

"I had to remind myself that we’re not in Northern Ireland and it wasn’t a bomb.

"I looked out of my window and saw this bit hanging down. I thought the guttering had fallen off but I went out to check.

"When I went outside I just couldn’t believe it. There was debris everywhere and these huge lumps of ice.

"The chunks were each fist sized when they were broken up, so it must have been the size of a football judging by the size of the hole it left in the roof."

Pieces of the ice that fell into the Boyle's garden

The dad said the chunks of ice left a gaping hole in their roof. The couple are now facing a repair bill of thousands of pounds.

He said if the ice had fallen three or four inches closer to the house it would have impacted the window in their bedroom.

"It was only about ten feet from my youngest daughter’s bedroom and it must have been travelling at a couple of hundred miles an hour," he added.

Damage to the roof

Mr Boyle stored a few pieces of ice in the freezer in case he might need them to prove what had happened, but says they have melted a little since it happened on Friday 4 March.

The couple have also contacted the Civil Aviation Authority to find out whether the ice could have fallen from an aeroplane.

"They say this happens every now and then, but that is quite a blase attitude to have," Mr Boyle said.

"You’ve probably got a bigger chance of winning the lottery than getting hit by a falling block of ice, but if this hit you, you wouldn’t survive.

"Sooner or later someone is going to be really unlucky and it could cost them their life. Someone needs to take responsibility.

"I was probably two feet away from being killed and to repair the damage it’s going to cost me thousands of pounds. The roof is ruined."

The Civil Aviation Authority said it is possible the ice could have fallen from a plane.

A spokesman said: "Although ice does very occasionally fall from aircraft, it can also be the result of meteorological phenomena.

"We receive around 30 reported ice falls every year, although we are not certain how many of these incidents are the result of ice falling from an aircraft."

The Universal Family Project