A MAN who was knocked unconscious in a crash has thanked those who found his injured dog after it bolted from his wrecked van.

Mechanic Jeff Rasburn, 45, was knocked out after swerving to avoid a car which pulled out from a side road in front of his van.

His Ford Transit ended up hitting a lamp post in Apton Hall Road, Canewdon.

The driver of the other car, a red Ford Ka, drove off.

When he came round, Mr Rasburn realised Cookie, his five-year-old brindle Staffordshire bull terrier, who had been in his van, was missing.

Despite needing medical attention, he set about finding his beloved pet.

Mr Rasburn’s partner, Paula Cooper, 45, said: “Cookie is an RSPCA rescue dog and we love her to bits.

“When I got the call from Jeff he said he’d had a bad accident and he sounded dazed. He said she was missing and I rushed down there straight away.

“The van is a write-off, but all we cared about was finding Cookie.

“She must have been flung from the van, which had its passenger door half snapped off.

“Paramedics told Jeff he should go to hospital, but he just wanted to find Cookie.”

People from nearby houses, and friends of the couple quickly rallied to search the fields by torchlight.

An appeal was put out on Facebook.

Mr Rasburn eventually gave up the search after midnight and returned home to Hawkwell.

They intended to resume their search in the morning, but received a call from staff at a care home in Stambridge who had found Cookie in their garden and rang the number on her collar.

Miss Copper said: “We were so relieved. I was convinced she’d been hit and we’d find her dead.

“We took her to the vet to be checked over and were amazed she was OK.

She has a scrape on her leg and by her eye, but is all right. She’s a tough Cookie.

“We want to say a huge thank you to everyone.”