A FATHER today told how his soldier son was lucky to be alive after being thrown from his car when it crashed on the M65.

Thomas Oliver, 20, a private in the Royal Engineers and known to friends as Tucker, was making his way home from his Army base in Reading on Friday night when the accident happened.

His mum, Kathleen, and three sisters, Rosie, 26, Libby, 24, and Catherine, 19, were today keeping a vigil at his bedside as they prayed for the former pupil at Fisher-More High School, Colne.

He is breathing through a life support machine in intensive care at Burnley General Hospital after the car his dad gave him as a present hit the central reservation.

Thomas is due to celebrate his 21st birthday in three weeks and was just five minutes away from his home in the Lomeshaye area of Nelson, when the accident happened.

He contacted a friend who he was due to go out with to tell him he was nearly home, minutes before the accident happened.

His dad, Tom said: "Thomas was found underneath the car and doctors don't know how long he had been there. He had a lot of blood in his lungs. It also looks like when he was thrown out of the window he has been dragged along with the car because the skin on his arms, back and buttocks had been torn off.

"We couldn't believe the mess he was in but now doctors say it's a miracle how he survived the accident. He hasn't even got any broken bones.

"We are waiting for him to wake up so doctors can fully assess him to see if any damage has been done to his spine or brain, we are praying that he will come through it."

Thomas joined the army 18 months ago and was looking forward to qualifying as an electrical engineer. He was due to go out to Germany next year.

He added: "He was doing so well. He genuinely loved it. He has made a lot of friends and had been working out, which doctors said is to his advantage.

"The army's family liaison officer has been to the hospital to see if they can help. I have asked him to let all his friends know how he is and I would also like to thank all his friends for their support."

Thomas lost control of the Citroen Saxo at 7.30pm as he travelled Eastbound on the M65 between junctions 11 and 12.

A police spokesman said: "Early indications are he lost control of the vehicle after drifting into the central reservation before the car swerved across the carriageway, collided with the nearside barrier and was then deflected into the central reservation barrier."

Firefighters helped free Thomas who from underneath the car.