FENLAND: Woman who escaped river drama returns to scene but wants compensation from council
THE woman who had a miraculous escape after her car plunged into a Fenland drain returned to the scene of the crash as she prepared to sue the county council for compensation. There should be proper crash barriers along bridges, not the barriers they cur
THE woman who had a miraculous escape after her car plunged into a Fenland drain returned to the scene of the crash as she prepared to sue the county council for compensation.
"There should be proper crash barriers along bridges, not the barriers they currently have now," said Alma Ryman. "I could have been dead and gone because of it."
She said: "The accident was not my fault. I was travelling at about 10mph and the car just slid as if I was driving on ice, through the barrier.
"The airbag did not even go off in the car, so it was obvious I was not travelling very fast.
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"We are waiting to hear back from our insurance assessors, but if they refuse to pay out we will be seeking compensation from the council. I have lost my car because the road was muddy and the barrier was not strong enough."
Mrs Ryman's threat of legal actions comes days after her car nosedived off Horseway Bridge into the Forty Foot Drain, between Chatteris and Manea.
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Mrs Ryman and her husband Tony claim Cambridgeshire County Council are putting drivers' lives at risk by not installing stronger barriers along bridges which cross Fenland drains.
Mrs Ryman, of Westfield Road, Manea, also said the road was muddy when the incident happened.
Mr and Mrs Ryman, who run Manea Agility Dog Club, bought the �13,000 Kia Sorento to transport her dogs to shows across the country.
Mr Ryman said: "I got told by a police officer at the scene that the barrier was only designed to stop pedestrians falling in the river. How can they have such a barrier along a 60mph road then? No wonder the car went through it.
"We saved from scratch for that car because we needed something that big for our dogs. Now, we have lost everything and I think we should get compensation from the council because the barrier was inadequate."
A county council spokesman said: "We are pleased to hear that Mrs Ryman and her dog made it safely out of the car.
"In the event that Mrs Ryman brings a claim against the council we will investigate fully any allegations and, as is standard practice, they make and will place the matter in the hands of our insurers.
"The safety of road users is of paramount importance to us and we will be carrying out our own investigations into what force was required to have caused such extensive damage to the bridge.
"Due to the fact that the couple have now signalled they could be taking legal action it is not possible for us to comment further."
Gareth Guest, the council's area bridge engineer, said the authority was responsible for 1500 bridges, and each bridge gets a two year safety inspection.
He said the council had a �2.3 million budget allocation from the Government this year and �400,000 from the county budget for bridge repairs. In March the council had recently spent �100,000 re coring bulk fittings to the parapet on the A141 rail bridge but the council was also committed to �1. 4 million on repairing one bridge at Littleport.
Mr Guest said if bridges were deemed unsafe the council had a monitoring system to check on them and if necessary to close roads and divert traffic.