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Disabled woman's pothole pains after fall on Wick street


By David G Scott

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A severely disabled Wick woman had to increase her morphine dose to deal with the pain experienced after her wheelchair overturned on a potholed street.

Janet Ross, who has a leg amputated, was making a rare journey outdoors to buy her partner Ronnie Irodenko a birthday present when the accident happened on West Banks Terrace near her house on October 25.

Janet with her partner Ronnie at home in West Banks Terrace in Wick. Janet is confined indoors most of the time and rarely gets out. Picture: DGS
Janet with her partner Ronnie at home in West Banks Terrace in Wick. Janet is confined indoors most of the time and rarely gets out. Picture: DGS

Janet (51), who had a stroke six years ago and part of a leg amputated five years ago, said: "We were out getting a present for Ronnie as it was coming up to his 60th birthday. It was on the way back that it happened."

Janet's daughter Kayrn had taken her shopping and then friend and neighbour, Chas Rewell (60), helped push the wheelchair for the return journey to West Banks Terrace from the town centre. "When I came into this road I never saw the potholes and as I came up the wheelchair just went down," said Chas. "You can't actually see the potholes and tell how deep they are as they get filled up with water. They're so bad up this road."

The pothole that the wheel got stuck in. Picture: DGS
The pothole that the wheel got stuck in. Picture: DGS

Janet fell out of the wheelchair and onto the road after the front wheel got caught in one of the potholes. She was left severely bruised on the side where her leg was amputated and Chas said he damaged his hand as he tried to stop Janet from falling. He said he thought Janet was in a state of shock which stopped her from screaming out. It was only when she returned home that the full extent of her injuries became obvious.

Janet says she has to sleep in her wheelchair through the whole night as the pain is worse when she lies down. Picture: DGS
Janet says she has to sleep in her wheelchair through the whole night as the pain is worse when she lies down. Picture: DGS

"I was all bruised down one side but I didn't want to spoil Ronnie's birthday so didn't go to the hospital till the fourth of November just in case they took me in." Janet said the pain has been so bad that she sleeps in her wheelchair the whole night in the sitting room rather than lie down in bed and had to significantly increase her painkiller medication.

"She's using much more Oramorph [morphine based linctus] since the accident which I make up for her," said Ronnie who is also Janet's full-time carer.

Janet's partner fills the oral syringe with the morphine solution and gives out her daily doses to alleviate the pain she is in. Picture: DGS
Janet's partner fills the oral syringe with the morphine solution and gives out her daily doses to alleviate the pain she is in. Picture: DGS

"I am that bloody angry about it," said Janet. "I can't go on the pavement as there's dog's dirt and it's not wide enough anyway, so I have to go on the road. I'd like to have something done about the road as it's just a blooming nightmare going down there."

Ronnie is Janet's partner and full-time carer. Picture: DGS
Ronnie is Janet's partner and full-time carer. Picture: DGS

The couple say they have spoken to a Wick councillor but have not had the necessary forms from him yet to make a claim for compensation against Highland Council. Chas says he feels guilty over the accident and that his "neighbour can't go out now".

"I don't want to hurt no-one," he said. "They should get this done and fix the road. All the way from the bottom to the top there are potholes."

Ronnie with Janet at the kerb they would like to see lowered so the wheelchair can access the road. They say the pavements on the road are too narrow for them to use. Picture: DGS
Ronnie with Janet at the kerb they would like to see lowered so the wheelchair can access the road. They say the pavements on the road are too narrow for them to use. Picture: DGS

Ronnie said: "I'd be quite happy if they [Highland Council] came to an agreement to lower the pavement so the wheelchair can get out. They said we can do it but it will cost four to five hundred pounds."

The couple also pointed out how some of the street lights on the Terrace have been out for over two months and though they've spoken to the council they feel they are "getting nowhere". "We feel that we're just not getting listened to," said Janet.

Ronnie with Janet at the site where she fell. Picture: DGS
Ronnie with Janet at the site where she fell. Picture: DGS

When contacted about the matter, a Highland Council spokesperson said: "It would not be appropriate to comment on this individual case if a claim is outstanding." They added that details on how to contact the council's insurance service are available at: www.highland.gov.uk/info/695/council_information_performance_and_statistics/459/insurance

With regard to lowering the kerb, the spokesperson said: “In general terms our Roads maintenance budgets are not for installing dropped kerbs for private individuals – whether for a driveway or a mobility scooter/wheelchair.

West Banks Terrace in Wick where the accident happened. Picture: DGS
West Banks Terrace in Wick where the accident happened. Picture: DGS

"Where there is a route or crossing point across a junction that requires dropped kerbs and benefits the community as a whole, then we can consider this along with all the other roads maintenance responsibilities. Private individuals can apply for permission to drop a kerb. They would be required to source a contractor and pay for the work themselves. The condition of a path within a property would fall to the property owner to maintain.”

The paper contacted the councillor mentioned by the couple who said that the claim forms he requested for Janet will be sent "ASAP".


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