A SPEEDING driver smashed into four parked vehicles then fled – sparking a police manhunt across Benfleet.

The black Vauxhall missed by centimetres a car carryingamum and daughter as it crashed into a row of parked cars in High Road, Benfleet.

Four men, wearing hoodies, ran off in separate directions and Essex Police’s helicopter was scrambled to search for them.

The 16-year-old daughter, who asked not to be named, said she and her mother were turning into a parking space outside the Co-op supermarket when they saw a car careering towards them at about 50mph.

She said: “I was a bit shaken.

The car was a centimetre away from hitting us.

“We went to pull over to go in the shop and as we did, we saw the black car swerve around us. It crashed into the cars and the airbags went off.

“Four men in hoodies got out, took all their stuff and went off in separate directions.

“They didn’t talk or take any notice of what they had done, they just walked away at a fast pace. Some went towards the train station and some up Kents Hill.

“It felt like I had just watched something from a TV show. I was amazed by what I had seen.

“It was pretty scary. We’re just lucky we escaped uninjured.”

She said the car had been travelling south towards Benfleet station.

The teenager added: “It was good the cars they crashed into were parked and no one was in them. One had practically fallen apart at the front.”

Police were called at about 9.20pm and the force’s helicopter joined the search at about 9.50pm.

Officers on the ground arrested two men, aged 21 and 20, from East London, who were arrested on suspicion of failing to stop at the scene of a road traffic collision and going equipped to commit a crime. The police refused to confirm any further details.

Essex Police said the crashed car had not been stolen.

A spokesperson added: “Four vehicles were struck and received varying degrees of damage.”

At the time the Echo went to press, the two men were still in police custody.