Disabled man plunges into river at Moors Valley after wheelchair slides down path (From Bournemouth Echo)
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Disabled man plunges into river at Moors Valley after wheelchair slides down path
A SLIPPERY slope led to a cerebral palsy sufferer plunging into a river in his wheelchair in the Moors Valley Country Park on Sunday.
Scott Bunter, whose condition leaves him unable to walk, talk or feed himself, only received his prized electric wheelchair last year, thanks to an appeal in the Daily Echo.
The 31-year-old was with mum Donna, his full-time carer, and her partner Mark Miles, walking the dogs through the park when they stopped at a popular spot for dogs to take a dip.
However, despite being stopped with the brakes on, Mr Bunter’s wheelchair slid sideways several feet down the wet path tumbling both him and his mum into the water.
Mrs Bunter said: “The chair is very heavy and it knocked me in and landed on me.
“I was lucky to be able to get free, but Scott was strapped into his chair and I had to hold his head above the water, I was terrified he was going to drown.”
A passerby noticed the disturbance and ran to help, and he and Mr Miles were able to free Mr Bunter and get him to the bank.
It took another two passing men who joined them to pull the chair from the water.
“They were heroes, we couldn’t have got Scott free without them,” she added.
Mr Bunter’s sister Charlotte said he was traumatised by the experience, and his chair was ruined.
“It doesn’t work now, and neither does his iPad which he needs to communicate. It is like losing his legs and being gagged,” she said.
“The newly tarmaced area is not safe and is horrendously slippery with no signs whatsoever.
“There used to be a bar that went across this pathway for safety but this was not there.”
Matti Raudsepp, head of leisure and open spaces at East Dorset District Council, confirmed that the new surface was laid recently as the previous gravel path was being eroded, and there was no safety barrier at the time of the incident, although it has since been replaced.
“The council is taking this incident very seriously and we are in communication with the family. An investigation is under way,” he said.
Family’s plea for witnesses
SCOTT Bunter’s family are appealing for the people who helped them to get in touch so they can describe what happened to the council.
Mum Donna said: “It is such a shame for this to happen after so many people contributed so much to get Scott that chair.
“We can’t ask the community again. We are looking for compensation from the council.”
Mr Bunter got his dream wheelchair, with racing style seat and his favourite colour scheme, in July last year after a six month fundraising campaign.
He was able to communicate using an iPad fixed to the £8,000 chair by tapping out messages using his nose.
Now Scott is relying on a mobile phone to speak to family and friends, and an old wheelchair.
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