Hertfordshire family claim they had to camp by M25 for nine hours because RAC failed to show up

Hertfordshire family claim they had to camp by M25 for nine hours because RAC failed to show up

Pregnant mother says her family-of-five were forced to camp at side of M25 for nine hours without water while being bitten by red ants because RAC failed to show up

  • Nicola Bolt, 32, her three children, and Steven Higgins, 32, were left on M25 
  • Their Vauxhall Insignia stalled between J28 and 29 and RAC gave ETA of 45mins
  • Then they heard nothing for a few hours before being told it would be extended
  • National Highways rescued the family nine hours on after spending night in tent 

A family-of-five say they were forced to camp at the side of the M25 for nine hours because RAC failed to show up. 

Nicola Bolt said her three boys, 11, 10, and five, cried as they were left on the side of the motorway near Brentwood with no water as red ants ate them.

The 32-year-old, who is expecting another child, said her family also including her partner Steven Higgins, 32, had been at the beach taking advantage of the 30C temperatures on Sunday, July 17.

Then on the way back the family’s Vauxhall Insignia stalled between J28 and 29 at around 7pm.

She rang the RAC, who she pays £300 a year for their breakdown service, and was told it would 45minutes and then after not hearing anything for a few hours was updated at 9.30pm.

The company said the ETA would be ‘extended’ and Ms Bolt told the Sun they spent a ‘stressful’ night hearing the lorries bounding down the M25 as they slept in their beach tent on the hard shoulder until National Highways rescued them at 5.30am.

Nicola Bolt (pictured with partner Steven Higgins) said her three boys, 11, 10, and five, cried as they were left on the side of the motorway with no water and eaten by red ants near Brentwood after going for a family day out at the beach

Their five-year-old Harry seen on the hard shoulder as the family slept in their beach tent

Their five-year-old Harry seen on the hard shoulder as the family slept in their beach tent  

Her and her Mr Higgins, a painter and decorator, said they were first told by RAC that no one was available after their car stalled on the way back from Southend-on-Sea. 

They then used an SOS phone after their phones went dead and were given an ETA as 45minutes before they were told later that evening it had been extended. 

They did have some picnic leftovers which they ate while the family said they went to the toilet in the bushes. 

‘It was the worry, the stress, the not knowing, the anxiety – it was just unimaginable,’ Ms Bolt said. ‘My kids were crying their eyes out at the side of the road.’

She said the worst was that her children, Alfie, 11, and Oliver, 10, who both have Autism and Harry, five, ‘didn’t have a clue what was going on’.

The family heard nothing for seven hours before RAC informed them that National Highways, formerly Highways England, would pick them up and take them to Markyate. 

Ms Bolt claimed National Highways said it would destroy their car if the breakdown service did not pay them to release it from a compound and later RAC said they could have a free hire car for two days.

She also says they have no access to the possessions in the car including a blue disabled badge. 

‘My partner is fuming, absolutely fuming,’ Ms Bolt said. 

Their bundles as they camped at the side of the ground

Their bundles as they camped at the side of the ground 

Nicola and partner Steven filmed themselves inside the beach tent after they came back from Southend-on-Sea

Nicola and partner Steven filmed themselves inside the beach tent after they came back from Southend-on-Sea 

A spokesman for RAC told the MailOnline: ‘We’ve apologised to Nicola for what happened. 

‘We realise what a difficult situation it must’ve been for her and her family. 

‘We’ve extended her hire car entitlement from two days to two weeks and have taken her car to a garage. We’ll also be agreeing a suitable gesture of goodwill with her.’

A spokesperson for National Highways said: ‘The customer called in to our regional operational centre as a breakdown at 18.47pm.

‘The customer was given a 45min ETA by the RAC to attend. At 21:30 the RAC extended their ETA to the customer.

‘After the customer had been waiting over seven hours the RAC contacted the our regional operations centre to request a Statutory Recovery for the customer which we provided.’

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Charlotte Mclaughlin

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