Edinburgh mum suffers broken jaw, finger and teeth after horror pothole sees her thrown from bike
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An Edinburgh mum-of-two had to undergo hours of surgery after a horror bike crash left her with a broken jaw, smashed teeth and a broken finger.
Heather Packwood was cycling in Bridge Road, Colinton, on Thursday when her bike hit a pothole, sending her flying over her handlebars. The 51-year-old landed on her face, with her jaw having been broken in three places. She also suffered a broken finger and lost two teeth as a result of the crash.
The nurse, who cycles more than 60 miles per week, has been left ‘very shaken’ by the incident which her husband Steve described as “a horrific accident”. He said his wife attended a specialist unit at St John’s Hospital in Livingston where she underwent more than four hours of surgery “to put plates and screws in her chin and fix her teeth”.
“As you can imagine she is now very concerned about getting back on a bike, she has woken up in the middle of the night thinking about the accident, so there’s a psychological impact of that as well,” he said, adding that it was a matter of time before there was a death on the city’s roads. “My wife could have easily broken her neck and I think one of these days someone will lose their life.”
Heather, a regular marathon runner, is now signed off work for six weeks and cannot eat solid food due to her injuries. “Doctors told us that if she hadn’t been so healthy she probably would have received more serious injuries and it’s a miracle that she didn’t break more bones with the impact. She’s very strong and very resilient,” said Steve.
Heather’s injuries have also meant a planned family holiday to Turkey had to be cancelled last week after the painful ordeal. “We have been looking forward to this holiday for a long time, it was the first holiday where all four of us would be there in six years – it was going to be a special celebration for us because it’s our 30th wedding anniversary next month,” said Steve.
The couple’s distress only increased when Steve discovered that the road on which his wife had been injured had been reported to Edinburgh council as a potential risk in August 2022. He said: “The first thing that struck me when I checked was that this was reported last August and here we are ten months later and nothing has been done.
“I would have a little bit of sympathy with the council if there were potholes they were not aware of, but if there is a mechanism in place to notify them of issues and places that need repairs and they don’t respond to that then I think that’s negligence.”
Steve, who is pursuing a compensation claim on behalf of his wife, added: “The council have to take these things seriously and see this as a major priority because people’s lives are at stake. And I think one way to do that is to take action against them. We just want the council to step up when they get these reports to act upon them as quickly as possible.”
Councillor Scott Arthur, transport and environment convener, advised Bridge Road has been assessed ‘on several occasions’ in line with their ‘approved risk-based process' since August 2022, and expressed it was ‘disappointing’ to see the ‘defect has not yet been fully repaired.’
Cllr Arthur said: “I wish this woman a full and speedy recovery. Her husband has been in touch, and I have reassured him that we asked for the area to be inspected following an eyewitness report I received.
"This incident, however, vindicates our decision to significantly increase the road and footpath maintenance budget this year and invest in a state-of-the-art Pothole Killer machine. I am hopeful that the added emphasis we are placing on road and footpath condition will mean all are repaired as soon as as possible.”
Cllr Arthur added: “I would recommend the use of the council’s online reporting system to raise reports of roads defects to ensure the most fast and efficient response to your issue.”