Foot­path prob­lems


Palmer­ston North dou­ble am­putee Neil Wal­lace was hurled from his wheel­chair and on to the road when his wheels hit rough, un­marked pave­ment at an in­ter­sec­tion.

‘‘I had to crawl, push my wheel­chair back on to the pave­ment and pull my­self in, bleed­ing and scratched,’’ he said.

A week af­ter alert­ing the city coun­cil to the in­ci­dent, the foot­path in West End had still not been fixed or marked as a haz­ard.

Wal­lace said even an or­ange road cone might have been enough to alert him to the po­ten­tial dan­ger.

‘‘If there were a cou­ple of cones, that would have done it, but the big­ger is­sue is that it was left like that at all.’’

City coun­cil road­ing man­ager Jon Sch­wass said it was un­for­tu­nate the Easter break had meant there was a de­lay in re­spond­ing to Wal­lace’s com­plaint.

‘‘We’re sorry to hear about Mr Wal­lace’s ac­ci­dent and ap­pre­ci­ate [his wife] alert­ing us to the mat­ter so we en­sure re­pairs are un­der­taken to avoid such an in­ci­dent oc­cur­ring again.’’

Traf­fic cones were put in place on Fri­day af­ter in­quiries from Stuff to alert pedes­tri­ans and other foot­path users to the rough spot.

Wal­lace was push­ing him­self along Fer­gu­son St to­ward Cook St, glanc­ing over his shoul­der for any turn­ing ve­hi­cles ap­proach­ing be­hind him, when he hit loose shin­gle ap­proach­ing the kerb.

He was thrown from his chair and landed heav­ily, partly on the road at Worces­ter St, on what is left of his lower legs af­ter both were am­pu­tated, one of them in late 2017.

The ac­ci­dent made his nerve pain worse, and has set him back on his mis­sion to get up and walk­ing on pros­thetic legs.

Wal­lace said he was mov­ing along at the speed of a jog­ger when he hit the dirt on the Thurs­day morn­ing be­fore Easter.

He was watch­ing for traf­fic and ‘‘just trusted the ground would be there’’ in front of him.

Wal­lace said he could see that able-bod­ied peo­ple might not have had any prob­lem nav­i­gat­ing the rough patch.

But he said the coun­cil or who­ever worked on the foot­paths should have more con­sid­er­a­tion for all sorts of foot­path users.

Sch­wass said the dam­age was caused dur­ing some util­ity ser­vices re­pairs, and the coun­cil did not know there was a prob­lem un­til Wal­lace re­ported it.

The area would be fixed with ur­gency, Sch­wass said.

‘‘It is un­for­tu­nate that due to the Easter break, there has been a de­lay in this hap­pen­ing.’’


Neil Wal­lace re­vis­its the un­fin­ished pave­ment that caused him to spill out of his chair more than a week ago.

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