Girl crushed by park fence

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 family.

"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 back.

"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 Today

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