Blind man fears for safety

KIRSTY MCMURRAY
Last updated 05:00 01/07/2013
Blind man
CAMERON BURNELL/ Fairfax NZ
WATCH OUT: Blind New Plymouth man Willy Newsome fell in an unbarricaded hole in his street on Saturday.

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A New Plymouth blind man who got stuck in a hole on the side of his street for almost two hours on Saturday is now scared to leave his house.

Willy Newsome, 34, was rescued by a neighbour and taken by ambulance to hospital with minor injuries after he fell in one of 10 holes dug in Severn Place by contractors.

All the holes in the street were fenced off by safety barricades yesterday.

New Plymouth District Council roading assets manager Max Aves said it was unclear if the hole had been part of the ultrafast broadband project, but contractors had been working in the area last week.

"We sent out contractors this morning to make sure the hole was secure."

But on Saturday evening the hole was far from safe as Newsome returned to his Spotswood home about 4.30pm.

He had his white cane with him and was using it to navigate the street but did not feel the hole until he was planted in it.

"I was a bit scared."

The hole was about a metre and a half deep and just wide and long enough for him to fit in.

Unable to climb out of the hole, Newsome called for help.

"I just yelled 'help, help, help' as loud as I could."

He said he was stuck in the hole for an hour and 45 minutes and was gravely worried no-one would come to his aid.

"I was totally stuck."

Eventually, one of Newsome's neighbours went to his rescue and rang emergency services.

Newsome was taken to Taranaki Base Hospital but had only minor injuries including bruising to his fingers.

Falling in the hole had made him nervous about going outside, he said.

"I don't actually feel like leaving my flat, now I just feel like staying in there."

Aves said it was unclear whether barriers had been put up in the first place.

"Most contractors are safety conscious," he said.

The council would be investigating what had happened.

"Sometimes we do have trouble with people removing the barricades after hours. I'm not saying that's what has happened in this case, but it does happen."

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