A former soldier has described the moment he was forced to swerve to avoid a woman who leapt 20ft from a footbridge into the path of his van.

The 20-year-old miraculously survived when she landed metres in front of Andy Smith’s van as he made his way along the A217 Reigate Avenue.

The dad-of-one, 26, who was on his way to work as a gas engineer, slammed on the breaks and swerved, stopping just metres from where her injured body lay.

He said: “I was looking up at the bridge and I saw her there. I didn’t know what she was doing, but as I got closer she climbed over, when I was nearly there she jumped off.

“I just braked and swerved into the next lane. Luckily there were no other vehicles. I was only going about 35mph luckily. If I had been going at 40mph (the speed limit) she would have gone through my windscreen or under my wheels.”

The woman landed in the right lane of the northbound traffic heading towards Rosehill roundabout. The woman had a broken back and pelvis and multiple fractures to other parts of her body.

Police are not treating the incident as suspicious and have stopped appealing for witnesses.

Mr Smith, of Nork Way, Banstead, rushed out of the car to see the woman was OK, and called the emergency services.

He said: “She was unconscious. I could tell she was breathing.

“It was a shocking thing to happen and I was shaken up, but I have been to Iraq and I have seen some things already so I have been able to deal with it.

“But I was angry when I thought my wife could have been in the car or driving. I wouldn’t have wanted her to go through this.

“Everyone has their own problems, but to get strangers involved like that is not fair.”