Mum left in agony after falling down manhole near her Morecambe home

A mum has been left in constant excruciating pain after falling down a manhole while walking a friend's dog near her Morecambe home.

By Gayle Rouncivell
Thursday, 25th June 2020, 11:53 am
Updated Thursday, 25th June 2020, 12:07 pm
Tracey Mcculloch in the alleyway where she had her accident.
Tracey Mcculloch in the alleyway where she had her accident.

Tracey Mcculloch, 36, faces months of rehab to try to repair the damage done after the accident in Back Rosebery Avenue.

Tracey, who is just 5ft 2ins, had to be rescued by firefighters after being trapped in the drain and in agony.

She is now on strong pain relief and needs adult carers to help her carry out basic tasks, and she doesn't know if she will fully recover from the injuries she received.

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Tracey Mcculloch being helped by paramedics after her accident.

But Tracey said she has still not received any apology or acknowledgement from the county council, and is worried a similar accident to happen to someone else with even worse results.

"A lot of the manhole covers in this area have been missing for months, and I know several people have reported it," she said.

"The only way they were fixed was by putting wooden boards over the holes, which have obviously rotted. A few weeks ago I was walking my friend's dog and the next thing I knew my world had caved in. I had stood on the wooden pallet and I went straight through it with my legs split.

"I was screaming for help before someone came and thankfully the first person was a nurse and she kept me calm until the ambulance came."

Tracey Mcculloch being helped by paramedics after her accident.

Paramedics were unable to get Tracey out of the hole, and gave Tracey pain relief until fire crews arrived called at the scene.

Firefighters eventually managed to get Tracey out of the manhole and onto a stretcher, with her neck supported in a brace, and she was taken to hospital, with an emergency stop en route at Asda due to the pain Tracey was in.

"A doctor had to be called out as there was a chance I could lose my leg," she said. "The pain in my hip and lower back was so bad I was screaming. I can honestly say it was less painful giving birth."

In hospital, doctors discovered Tracey's injuries included a chipped bone in her hip, soft tissue and ligament damage to her pelvis, damaged femur and thigh on her left leg, an ankle sprain, whiplash, soft tissue neck damage and nerve damage in her spine. She also suffered serious damage to her groin.

Tracey Mcculloch in the alleyway where she had her her accident, with (socially distanced) Couns Jake Goodwin and Cary Matthews.

Single mum Tracey is now struggling to care for herself at home, as well as look after her 11-month-old baby and nine-year-old autistic son.

Tracey said she has had to forget her pride and ask for help from social services, who are now providing daily adult carers to help her out.

"I can't even wash and dress myself properly, it's embarrassing" she said. "I am 36 and I feel like an old person, and I was worried they would take my kids off me if I told anyone I couldn't cope.

"It's going to take months for me to recover. No one has even said 'sorry' - I am a proud person and I just want a 'sorry' and a bit of basic help. It's humiliating.

Tracey Mcculloch being helped by paramedics after her accident.

"It's had a physical and psychological impact on me and my children, and I don't want this to happen to anyone else."

Tracey has also been helped by her ward councillor Jake Goodwin as well as MBI leader Coun Cary Matthews, and now has meals provided as well as visits from occupational therapy.

Coun Matthews said they tried to help Tracey as soon as they heard her plight.

"We respond to our residents with compassion and care and we continue to support her," she said.

And the MBI leader said complaints had been made to Highways about the missing manhole covers since before Christmas.

"As a group, the MBIs have reported the missing grates but nothing had been done except in some areas a temporary fix of a piece of wood was put over them.

The manhole Tracey Mcculloch fell down. Her flip flop is visible at the bottom of the drain.

"The response has been shocking because there is still the potential for another accident."

A county council officer spoke to Tracey after the Visitor had contacted the council for a comment, and said they would be posting her a claims form.

"My priority is getting my health back and looking after my children, it's not about making a claim," she said. "I had my accident on May 31 and I have contacted the council several times since then with no response.

"They need to realise the severity of what happened. I am having to ask a stranger to help to wash me, everything has to be done for me. I need to make sure this doesn't happen again.

"What if it had happened to someone elderly or disabled? It could have been even worse, or potentially fatal.

"It's a disgrace. Schoolchildren walk down there every day, and there is sheltered housing close by as well."

A spokesman for Lancashire County Council said: "We're very sorry to hear of Mrs Mcculloch's injuries and wish her well with her recovery.

"Around 35 drain and manhole covers were stolen in the Morecambe area within a few days during March, including one on Back Rosebery Avenue North which was reported to us on 18 March and made safe the same day.

"We treat all reports of missing covers as an emergency which means we aim to make them safe immediately. Following this we return as soon as we can to replace the cover, and usually also the frame to ensure a good fit.

"Our usual operations were scaled back in March due to the coronavirus pandemic, so in this case we used temporary inserts which can be easily cut to size as an interim measure until we could safely carry out a permanent repair.

"We began to resume normal operations in May with social distancing measures in place, and carried out the task of permanently repairing the drains in early June."

Tracey Mcculloch at the manhole where she had her accident.
Tracey Mcculloch in hospital after her accident.
Tracey Mcculloch with Chris Conway from Cpac taxis, who has been taking Tracey's autistic son to school since her accident.