A steel park fence crushed a
3-year-old girl at the weekend, leaving her with serious head
and facial injuries.
Lesley Alpin was on a family outing in Hastings' Cornwall
Park on Saturday when her daughter, Catherine, touched a
fence surrounding a swing for disabled people.
"She literally put her hands on it and the whole side of the
fence fell down on top of her," Mrs Alpin said.
"I lifted it off her and picked her up straight away and her
face - it was a mess."
She immediately knew it was a serious injury because of the
weight of the fence on the 12kg girl and sudden large bumps
on her head, so asked a nearby family for help.
"A lovely family was there and they helped me and my mum by
watching the kids and calling the ambulance."
Grandmother Lyn Harrison was full of praise for the assisting
"You think you can cope with a situation but when it happens
it is completely different.
"He just stepped in and took over. It was really good. He
wouldn't give his name.
"He just said he hoped somebody would do the same for him one
day in that situation."
St John Ambulance staff took Catherine to Hawke's Bay
Hospital, where she was x-rayed and held overnight. She was
discharged yesterday morning.
"They are going to keep an eye on her cheek - the doctor will
check it again in a few days.
"The bruising is significant and because of the swelling and
deformity on her face they might x-ray her again. They said
there is a 1 per cent chance there might be a break."
Mrs Harrison said both she and her daughter were in-home
carers, who often took children to Cornwall Park and were
constantly making risk assessments.
"We never thought to look at fences."
Mrs Alpin said the Hastings District Council suspected
someone had tried to steal the fence.
"You can't unscrew it with your fingers - you have to use
tools. They've unscrewed the top and bottom and placed it
"She is obviously the first kid to touch it, at 6 o'clock at
night, and it has fallen on top of her."
Catherine was "quite grumpy and unsettled" and would "most
definitely" be spoilt, starting with a shopping expedition
for new swimming togs.
"The doctor had cut her togs off and they were her very new
togs. She can't understand why the doctor cut them off - you
don't cut clothes.
"My sister said she would take her shopping."
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said an investigation would be
undertaken to see if the fencing could be made tamper-proof.
- Hawke's Bay