A NEILSTON taxi driver has told of the "terrifying" moment a tree came crashing down on top of his car during Storm Ali.

Khalid Mahmood, 58, was driving along Neilston Road at around 11.30am last Wednesday when the intense winds brought a large tree down directly on top of him.

At the time, the area was being battered by wind gusts of up to 80mph, with East Renfrewshire Council being inundated with reports of trees falling and blocking roads.

Khalid, a driver for Barrhead-based Compass Cars, had just dropped off a passenger in the Uplawmoor area and was returning to the office when his vehicle was struck.

He said: "I travel that road all the time. Just five minutes earlier, I was driving along it and the weather wasn't so bad. There wasn't any danger.

"After I dropped off the hire, I was coming back to the office and, at that point, the wind was so strong. It really was bad. All the trees around me were shaking.

"Then I heard a loud creaking from my right. I turned and saw this big, big tree coming down. I didn't know what to do, if I should brake or swerve or what.

"I saw it coming but there was no time. It came right down on top of me. It hit the roof first and smashed that in, then fell onto the bonnet."

Khalid's car came to an immediate halt as the airbag burst and he was showered with glass from the shattered windscreen.

Although he didn't emerge entirely unscathed, he was astonished and relieved to be able to walk away from the accident.

He said: "I was slightly hurt but not too badly. The airbag left me with pain in my face and in my side. I've got a swollen finger and a sore back but it's just minor things.

"It was terrifying when it happened and the weather was still so bad after the crash, while all around me were other trees that looked like they might come down."

Luckily, help was provided by motorist Barry Crumlish, who arrived on the scene moments after the tree landed on Khalid's car.

He offered the taxi driver a lift back to his home in Neilston, where he was met by his wife.

Khalid said: "I looked really bad when I walked in because small pieces of glass had hit me. I had blood on my face and my arms, so it looked really bad, but it was just minor cuts.

"When she saw me, my wife started shaking worse than me. I was just glad that I could walk away from it.

"At the moment, I have no idea when I'll be back at work. I know the car is a write-off but that's all in the hands of the insurance company.

"I'm just thankful that it wasn't much worse. I think I was lucky."