Tar barrel accident caused brain damage claims West Hill man

LAST week s incident at Ottery St Mary tar barrels event was not the first time anyone has been seriously injured, claims a West Hill man.

LAST week's incident at Ottery St Mary tar barrels event was not the first time anyone has been seriously injured, claims a West Hill man.

In 2005, Steven, 41, who doesn't want his surname known, says his wife Mandy was left brain damaged after being concussed at the very spot and in the same factory barrel event, when a flaming barrel hit her on the head.

Unable to speak previously because of protracted legal wranglings, Steven now wants to go public after reading comments by others claiming to have been hurt during the traditional event.

He said: "She was on the pavement and she and her friends decided it was too busy and were going to the next barrel when one came up behind her and hit her on the back of the head.


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"Half-an-hour later she collapsed. She stopped breathing in the ambulance and was given oxygen, then spent three or four days in hospital.

"She has never worked since then and has got brain damage."

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He said Mandy remembers everything prior to November 5 2005, but now has a five-day memory, unable to retain anything that happens beyond that time.

"The damage to her brain was tiny, but the repercussions are huge. She lost her speech for three months and had intensive speech therapy and she suffers from post-traumatic stress."

Steven emphasised that neither he nor his wife, now 45, want to stop the tar barrels but he has suggested ways organisers could make it safer - getting marshals to warn people to get out of the way and close car parks to restrict the numbers coming to watch.

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