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Woman Injured At Tourist Hotspot Concerned For Others Safety

Expert Lawyers Call For Improved Health And Safety Along River Thames To Prevent Further Accidents


A woman who ‘could have drowned’, was knocked unconscious and suffered dizziness and impaired vision for months after falling over a section of sawn off metal tubes alongside the Thames has called for safety improvements to prevent more serious injury in future.

Joan Gowans, 66, had enjoyed four days of boating along The Thames with her husband Andrew in August 2009 when they decided to moor up at Kingston Bridge North Bank to enjoy the sunshine.

Mrs Gowans, from Wraysbury in Staines, stepped onto the towpath to read the mooring regulations but tripped and fell over a series of sawn off metal tubes, knocking her unconscious when she hit the ground.

Her husband, who was still in the boat when she fell, phoned an ambulance as a deep cut to her head was causing her to lose a lot of blood. She was taken to Kingston Royal Infirmary where they glued her head together and discharged her, warning her she was likely to suffer symptoms of concussion and to visit her GP if she experienced any dizziness.

Now, Mrs Gowans is calling for lessons to be learnt after contacting specialist injury lawyers at Irwin Mitchell for help. The insurer of Historic Royal Palaces, Royal & Sun Alliance, who leased the land from the Environment Agency, settled out of court.

She suffered months of dizzy spells and high blood pressure, as well as damage to her left retina affecting her vision, and has concerns that others could easily trip, suffering similar injuries.

Martyn Hayward, a specialist personal injury lawyer at Irwin Mitchell who helped Mrs Gowans in her battle for justice, said: “Time and time again we deal with cases where clients have been injured, through no fault of their own. This was an accident that could easily have been prevented if the correct precautions to protect others had been put in place.

“We repeatedly call for improvements in safety standards in public places and share Mrs Gowans concerns that the consequences of the accident could have been much worse.”

Mrs Gowans said: “The accident ruined what should have been a relaxing end to our short break. I suffered a head injury which caused problems with dizziness and my eyesight for many months after the accident, but worryingly it could have been so much worse.

“I was fortunate that I fell straight to the floor and my husband was close by, but I dread to think what might happen if someone tripped and fell into the river. It’s such a popular area that many tourists visit, including families with young children and measures need to be taken to ensure it is safe. The poles were just sawn off and there were no warnings or anything highlighting them.

Andrew Gowan said: “I’m just thankful I was there and found her, as if Joan had woken and tried to move, there’s a strong possibility she could have rolled into the river.

“Since the accident we have spoken to other people that visit the area and they agree the metal tubes were dangerous because they were sawn off but left sticking out the ground by an inch. We know of at least one other person who has also fallen over there, but fortunately they didn’t suffer serious injury.