A FORMER firefighter has recalled the shocking moment he locked eyes with the driver of a car as it hurtled towards him during a hit and run near Stockbridge.

Jesse Johns, 33, was hospitalised after being run over by the thieves who attempted to steal his van outside Longstock Village Hall on Saturday evening.

Moments earlier, he had found the driver and his accomplice stealing his tools, before they fled in the car they used to knock Jesse down.

Police are now appealing for the public’s help to trace the driver of a blue Ford Galaxy with the car registration AF02 ACU.

The 33-year-old former firefighter described the moment the car came driving towards him.

“I saw the look in his eye, he was hell-bent,” said Jesse.

“I’ve been in some pretty horrific accidents in my life, but to see someone hurtling towards you in a car, head on, and not even attempting to slow down, it was quite a shock.”

He continued: “And it wasn’t an accident, that’s the thing.

“If I was feeling like this because someone genuinely didn’t see me, I would probably have sympathy for them, but not these guys. It’s disgusting.”

Jesse had been dropping off some wages to a member of staff who he says was a bit short of money at the time.

“That’s the irony of it,” he added, “you try to do a favour and you end up getting run over.”

The incident left him in hospital and although he is back home now recovering, he says his shoulder was completely ripped from its socket.

Currently working as a builder, Jesse says he previously served as a firefighter and had been hoping to restart his training and return to the profession in Stockbridge. But the injuries he has sustained have prevented him from now doing that.

“I was a firefighter back in Devon and Cornwall,” he said, “and I was looking at restarting my physical training up here.

“The fire station here is desperate for a fire fighter and I could have done that.”

Despite his plans being derailed, Jesse says the situation could have been a lot worse.

“If I wasn’t the age I am and fit, if I was younger or older, it could have killed me,” he added.

“I’m almost thankful it was me and not someone else as I can get over it. If it was someone frail and old, like a lot of people in Stockbridge, it could have killed them.”

The Ford Galaxy was later recovered in West Wellow. Inside were power tools stolen from Jesse’s van. He says they were not worth much but he and his family remain determined to help police track down the attackers.

They are urging anyone who was in the area or who may have dash cam or CCTV footage to contact police, quoting crime reference number 44200183759.

His fiancée wrote on Facebook: “We know that the car left Longstock Village Hall car park around 18:40pm heading towards Stockbridge, taking the right hand turn up Bottom Road, then left at the top to Salisbury Road.

“We currently have CCTV showing this vehicle driving past Windyridge, Houghton Down at 18:47 on the A30, just before the Broughton Road and Spitfire Lane crossroads.

“The car could have gone in multiple directions before ending up, parked up and locked up at Gurnays Mead, West Wellow and we’re asking if anyone as any CCTV, dash cam footage, photos etc between these two areas to please come forward and help the police with their enquiries.”

Police have issued the following statement on the incident: “We are investigating a report of a collision in Longstock Road, Longstock, in which a man was injured.

“The incident took place at around 6.45pm on Saturday, May 23. A 33-year-old man returned to his parked van to find two men inside.

“Both men then left the van and got into a blue Ford Galaxy car. The car was then in a collision with the 33-year-old man.

“He was taken to hospital for treatment to a shoulder injury.

“The car was later recovered in West Wellow. Power tools had also been taken from the van.

“An investigation is underway.

“Anyone with information should call police on 101, quoting the crime reference number 44200183759."