A PENSIONER died after tripping over in Poole High Street – the same morning inspectors decided they did not need to urgently replace loose paving stones.
An inquest heard retired engineer Charles Hurst, 87, had driven to the shops from his home in Hamworthy on the morning of December 6 last year.
Witness Madeleine Tandy had just walked over the level crossing from Falkland Square when she saw Mr Hurst walking towards her.
“The next second, bang. He went straight down. His face bounced off the floor. It was so quick – I’ve never seen anyone fall like it,” she said.
At that stage he was conscious and was able to walk a few steps to the ambulance.
He died that night from a subdural haematoma, a blood clot under the outer covering of the brain.
His widow Doris said her husband did his own gardening and decorating and was able to get around. A neighbour took her into Poole when she became concerned for him that morning. She discovered her husband was unconscious in intensive care and nothing more could be done for him.
Miss Tandy returned a few days later and took pictures.
The inquest heard Poole Council had raised a seven day priority notice on November 29 over loose blocks around inspection covers outside Linens Direct. Wessex Water and the council carried out a site inspection on the morning of December 6 and agreed the defect was not dangerous. Remedial works were carried out in early January.
Nigel Martin, operational head of water supply for Wessex Water, said the company was responsible for the structure of the stopcock chamber and the council for the paving.
District coroner Sheriff Payne recorded a verdict of accidental death. “It would appear that he did trip on loose paviours around one of the inspection covers,” he said.
A distraught Mrs Hurst said: “The High Street is a disgrace. My husband was very careful when he walked there. He always kept hold of my arm because there were so many potholes. The council don’t seem to bother. They’ve killed my lovely husband.”
Mr Hurst’s previous employers included Poole Foundry and Metal Box. He was a founder of Hamworthy Labour Club and captain of the skittles team for many years.
Poole Council said it had no knowledge of the incident until contacted by the coroner in February.
Julian McLaughlin, head of transportation services, offered sympathy and said: “The council conducts regular monthly inspections of Poole High Street to ensure it is well maintained. On 29 November 2011 we notified Wessex Water of several defects requiring their attention.
“The council and Wessex Water carried out a site inspection on 6 December to assess the identified defects. It was agreed which of the defects presented the greatest potential hazard to pedestrians and when the necessary repair work would be completed.
“We have a good working relationship with Wessex Water and endeavour to ensure all repairs are carried out as soon as possible. While this accident could not have been foreseen, the council will be looking at ways to improve procedures for repairing defects.”
A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said: “Millions of people fall over each year and tripping on an uneven section of a level surface is not something most people would think of as being potentially fatal.”