Essex mum calls for action after tot falls 8ft down manhole

A DUNMOW mum has told of the terrifying moment her three-year-old daughter fell eight feet down a “dangerous” manhole, as she played just yards from the family home.

Little Ella Jones was playing with her family on the green in Ash Grove when she ran over the drain. The cover flipped and the tot fell through, scrapping her legs, hips, arms and head on the way down.

Mum Leanne went rushing to help but had to get a friend to fish the toddler out.

“It was just as well my friend was with me because I’m quite short and couldn’t reach Ella,” said Miss Jones.

“It was quite terrifying. One minute she was happily playing and the next she had fallen through. We could hear her crying but couldn’t see her. The only thing we could see was the manhole cover which was sticking up.

“She managed to scramble up on some bricks but she was soaking. Her clothes and hair were covered in sewage and she had it in her mouth, and I was also covered. It has been quite traumatic for her.”

Although she escaped with minimal injuries from the incident – which happened on Sunday afternoon – Ella had to visit the hospital to get injections of Hepatitis A and B and tetanus, while Miss Jones has been to the doctors to have the jabs.

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Miss Jones, who has two other children, said that the manhole has been in a “disgusting” state for too long and has been “an accident waiting to happen”.

Indeed, while investigating the scene, the Broadcast was approached by 16-year-old Paige Kenney, who also lives in the area. She damaged her ankle after falling through the same manhole two weeks ago.

However, it is not entirely clear who is responsible for the manhole although the Broadcast understands that a resident of Ash Grove reported the situation to Essex Highways last month. When we called, an employee said no action had been taken and inspectors were due to investigate.

“My neighbour has been chasing this up for years and I’ve been sent round the houses,” said Miss Jones. “I’ve talked to the water companies, town council, housing association and highways. It is ridiculous that no one had even been out to make the area safe after Ella’s fall.

“The manhole is falling apart and is so dangerous. Many people cut across the green, sometimes late at night when there are no lights. It is an accident waiting to happen.

“Ella was fortunate with the few injuries she got but the next person might not be so lucky.”