Speed bump jolt breaks man's back

First published in Cumbria news by

FEARS are growing that a Kendal man is facing paralysis after damaging his spine going over a speed bump.

Neil Price, 53, of Kendal, was on the back seat of a bus when he collapsed as it negotiated the speed bumps that run through Dalton-in-Furness town centre on Saturday (October 1).

He is now in hospital with two broken vertebrae, a damaged spinal chord and has no feeling from the chest down. Doctors have told Mr Price that it will be two to three weeks before they know if he will walk again.

His nephew, Sean Price, said: "He was on the back of a bus going over a speed bump and he went right up in the air by six to ten inches, landed and felt something go in his back.

"He tried to move seats so he wouldn't be tossed about as much and then collapsed as he tried to move."

Willie McPhail, the Barrow depot manager for Stagecoach, said the driver of the X35 Barrow-Kendal service realised something was wrong at around 8.30am as he was about to turn left off Market Street.

"He was just going over the speed table there and he heard a commotion from the back of the bus," said Mr McPhail. "When he investigated he found this gentleman was on the floor. Because he couldn't get up he phoned an ambulance.

"The driver said he wasn't going fast because you can't over those tables, secondly because he was about to make a left turn."

Paramedics arrived and carried Mr Price into a waiting ambulance. He was taken to Furness General Hospital but has since been transferred to the Royal Preston Hospital.

A spokesman said his condition was "satisfactory" but declined to release any further details of Mr Price's injuries.

It is not known whether Mr Price had a pre-existing back problem, which was triggered by the jolt as he rode over the bump.

Mike Aitken, of Rexel Senate Electrical Wholesalers, of Mintsfeet Road, who has worked with Mr Price for 20 years, said his colleague had been complaining of back pain for a couple of months, although his nephew was not aware of a specific problem.

"We were all shocked, it's a terrible thing," said Mr Aitken. "We all wish him well from here."

Sean Price said: "At the moment he can move his arms and head and is fully lucid and he is quite chipper given the circumstances. He has faced the idea that he might not recover and has given notice that he might have to move from his flat which is up three flights of steps."

Mr Price added that he felt his uncle's back "proved" Dalton's speed humps were dangerous.

Stagecoach - which routinely objects to any new proposals for speed humps - has suggested Dalton's unpopular humps "need to be addressed".

Bus drivers have a history of opposing the traffic-calming measures across the country. After a legal threat from First Bus in 2003, Sheffield City Council removed bumps on a bus route after drivers' claimed the jolt caused by repeatedly driving over them left them with back pain.

However, this appears to be the first bus passenger to link a hump with a back problem and the first to suffer paralysis.

Cumbria County Council, which is responsible for roads, said Dalton's humps had been in place since the mid 1990s and Mr Price's case was the first incident of its kind of which they were aware.

A spokesman said: "The humps were built to comply with the safety guidelines of the time. We don't appear to have had any particular complaints about their height.

"Generally, these speed humps are safe if you go over them at the appropriate speed. If it looks as though this hump itself played any significant role in this incident then we will look at it."

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