Cursed park hits family for the second time

Little John McAlpine broke his foot in a freak accident.
Little John McAlpine broke his foot in a freak accident.

By Cara Sulieman
A FIVE-year-old boy has been injured in a freak accident just metres from where his brother was hurt five years ago – making the family feel cursed.

John McAlpine was playing with his brother Jack, 7, and friend when a gust of wind blew over a six foot high monument.

John was trapped when the sculpture fell on his foot in the park near his home in Haddington, East Lothian.

He was eventually freed by his cousin – 17-year-old Jason DeMarco – before being rushed to the Sick Kids hospital in Edinburgh.

After staying over night to let the swelling go down, John’s fractured toes and broken metatarsal bone were put into a cast.

Now the five-year-old has been forced to stay home from the nursery he loves while his foot heals.

The massive stainless steel arch has been next to the play park for four years.

Now the tot’s father, also John, is planning to sue East Lothian council over the accident.

He said: “The children’s park in Lammermuir Crescent is not what I would call child-friendly. In fact it has been a curse on this family.

“The council have been unhelpful since we reported the accident. When I called the emergency number on Friday night the woman told me it wasn’t an emergency.

“But my son had to go to hospital and the metal object was still lying on the ground. It’s a play park and kids are running about there all the time.

“To me, that’s an emergency.”

And it’s not the first time the family have had an emergency situation after an incident in the park.

John’s older brother Jamie, now 17, had his fingertips chopped off by a swing gate in the park in 2004 when he was just 12 years old.

The family won £2,200 in damages from the council at the time.

But John is outraged that the area is still a danger zone despite many accidents over the years.

He said: “The whole thing is dangerous. They sometimes take away bits and pieces of play equipment because a kid has had an accident. But they often leave metal struts sticking out of the ground.

“It’s all just quick fixes and never made properly safe.”

And John believes part of the reason the sculpture fell over was that it was never properly maintained.

He said: “Older kids who hang about the park, swing off of it and slide down it and it weakened the structure. The wee wall around it is always falling apart as well.

“How can it be safe when they have got no vandalism prevention in place. No wonder it fell over.”

East Lothian Council removed the metal sculpture on Monday and yesterday were covering up the holes left behind by the damage.

But it’s too little, too late for the McAlpine family who are again suffering because of the dangerous playpark.

John said: “We are taking legal advice but no matter what money we get it’s not going to make up for John’s pain. The council needs to do something before another child gets hurt.”