Woman to sue Sunderland Council over sledging accident

Kate Parkin with her father Andy Parkin at Silksworth Ski Slope, Sunderland.'She broke her back while sledging at the site in 2010.'She is suing Sunderland City Council for damages.
Kate Parkin with her father Andy Parkin at Silksworth Ski Slope, Sunderland.'She broke her back while sledging at the site in 2010.'She is suing Sunderland City Council for damages.
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A WOMAN who had to rebuild her life after a devastating sledging accident is taking legal action against Sunderland City Council.

Kate Parkin spent months in hospital following the high-speed smash near Silksworth Ski Slope in January 2010.

After talks with the council broke down, the 31-year-old has vowed to have her day in court to prevent other families going through the same ordeal, despite being warned it could cost £10,000 if she loses the case.

The Sunderland mum suffered severe spinal injuries while playing with her then 11-year-old son.

The pair were careering down a hill at Silksworth when they hit a drainage ditch, crashed, and were thrown into the snow.

Although John, now 14, escaped with minor injuries, Kate landed awkwardly and crushed her vertebrae.

Doctors later told her she could have been paralysed had the injury been centimetres higher.

After being rushed to Sunderland Royal Hospital, Kate, from Monkwearmouth, had two major operation.

Surgeons inserted three rods into her back to strengthen her spine while bone was taken from other parts of her body to help repair the damaged vertebrae.

Her upper body was put in plaster for two months before she was able to have physiotherapy.

Three years on, brave Kate had to endure a further operation to remove the rods after they started to move, and needs to take up to 28 painkillers a day. She still has a 10 centimetre scar on her back.

She had to learn how to walk again and found herself in debt after she lost her job at a jewellery store.

Now she devotes her time to volunteering as a counsellor and has passed her driving test.

Supported by father Andy, she has called for the local authority to fence off the drainage ditch where she crashed.

She said: “If there had been a fence around it or a danger sign I would not have taken my son there.

“I thought it was safe but it obviously was not.”

Despite still being in constant pain, Kate said she has tried to stay positive throughout her ordeal.

“I got depression and anxiety, which I’ve never had before, because I went from being a really active parent to not being able to do anything.

“I felt like I had let my son down for two years.

“I will never be able to run or jump again, or carry anything heavy, but I’ve been trying to rebuild my life.”

Now the family are building their case up and have appealed for other people who have been injured near the ski slope to come forward.

Mr Parkin, 51, who works with young offenders, said: “We heard a 33-year-old lad had an accident there on January 20 this year and we would like him to get in touch.”

Sunderland City Council said it would be inappropriate to comment while legal proceedings were active.

Twitter: @janethejourno