A COUNCILLOR is facing reconstructive surgery after ploughing head first into a boulder in a freak sledging accident.
Fraser McAllister, who represents Musselburgh West, suffered a shattered left eye socket during the accident as he enjoyed playing in the snow with his grandchildren.
His injuries were so bad that part of his skull was left exposed.
The SNP councillor, who is now recovering at home in Musselburgh following last Friday’s smash, will undergo reconstructive surgery once the swelling around his eye settles.
Councillor McAllister was heading to the Dumfries Burns Festival with his family, including wife Christine and grandchildren April and Robin, when they stopped off at Castle Douglas.
Before the accident, he had joked with his family that the worst that could happen when sledging was getting wet knees.
He said: “I think I hit the only boulder. It wasn’t like there was any perceived danger or risk. But this just goes to show. I was going down head first on my own and at quite a pace and suddenly there was a boulder in front of me.”
His son-in-law David stemmed the blood flow by wrapping a shirt around the 61-year-old’s head until an air ambulance arrived.
Cllr McAllister said: “He didn’t want the kids to see the extent of my injuries. Part of my skull was exposed and my nerves were severed. When the helicopter arrived, my
daughter said to the children ‘That’s the doctor come to make granddad better’.
“I was aware through the whole thing and I was able to wave to them from the helicopter. I knew there was a fracture but I kept calm.”
Cllr McAllister was then airlifted from the remote Dumfriesshire countryside to the trauma unit at Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital, where he required 40 stitches.
He admitted he was lucky to not have suffered even more serious injuries, following the death of a school teacher in a sledging accident in Glasgow.
Maryam Najafian, a 25-year-old teacher at Lanark Primary, died in a crash at Kelvingrove Park last month.
Cllr McAllister said: “You think of sledging as something children do, and if children can do it then it can’t be dangerous. But according to the doctors I spoke to, sledging injuries are more common than we think. I’m all right now, apart from being tired and bruised. Seeing my family so distressed was the worst thing for me.
“Fortunately, I am now recovering well and I live to fight another day, as they say.”
He is now encouraging the use of protective headgear when sledging or skiing.
Councillor Stuart Currie, the SNP group leader at Midlothian Council, urged his friend and colleague to put his duties aside until he has fully recovered. He said: “I told him that getting himself well is the crucial thing and to stop trying to do case work.”