A family have been left counting their blessings after a runaway van crashed into their lounge window at exactly the moment when a six-year-old girl would normally have been waving her dad off to work.

The impact smashed the wall and broke the window, leaving the lounge strewn with debris after the driver apparently forgot to use the handbrake while making a call in Prospect Grove, Windhill, Shipley.

The cul-de-sac is on a hill and Kevin McDonald had just stepped outside the family home to start his journey to work when the incident occurred.

He said it was “surreal” to watch the van roll down the hill. It was launched into the air from a ‘dwarf’ wall before slamming into the front of the house.

Fortunately son Thomas, eight, had stayed overnight with his grandparents and because it was Easter, daughter Emily, six, had stayed in bed rather than be in her usual routine of waving off her dad from the lounge window before getting ready for school.

Mr McDonald said the unmarked council van was brand new and the driver explained he normally used a heavier truck with an automatic brake, and had forgotten to apply the handbrake.

Mr McDonald’s partner Sarah Smith 32, who works for an online shoe retailer, said: “I feel sorry for the driver because his intention was never for the van to go through our window. It doesn’t bear thinking about what might have happened if Emily had been at the window. I was in bed at the time and it literally shook the bed, then I heard the glass smashing. I jumped up and went to the window, then straight to the door to make sure Kevin was okay.

Mr McDonald, 36, who works for a builders’ merchants, said he had contacted Bradford Council’s insurance department but they seemed baffled about how to proceed because the circumstances were so unusual.

“I don’t want anything to happen to the driver, because it was an accident,” he said. “A builder has seen the damage and said he doesn’t want to touch it until it has been seen by a structural engineer.”

The couple will now stay on at the house until the damage is repaired because they are concerned about security following a recent burglary, though the children will be staying with their grandparents until the house is back to normal.

A Bradford Council spokesman confirmed the accident involved a collection vehicle: “We are still investigating what happened. In the meantime the householder should contact his insurer for advice.”