Must someone die for a safer beach?

PUBLISHED: 15:10 31 July 2001 | UPDATED: 10:23 03 March 2010

BEACH walker Paul Foreman's sunshine stroll on the shore ended in a nightmare with the 45-year-old suffering a broken wrist and rib in a horrifying accident.

BEACH walker Paul Foreman's sunshine stroll on the shore ended in a nightmare with the 45-year-old suffering a broken wrist and rib in a horrifying accident.

Mr Foreman, who is today preparing to sue Suffolk Coastal District Council for compensation for his injuries, plunged on to rocks on Felixstowe beach after a broken step on a breakwater moved when he put his foot on it.

The accident comes just a few days after The Evening Star highlighted the dangers on the resort's beaches, where there are now severe drops to the shore from the prom and many groynes in a hazardous state.

Mr Foreman sustained breaks to his right wrist and rib, and dreadful cuts above his left eye, after using steps which lead over the wooden groynes.

"It just happened so quick – there was no time to react or do anything," said Mr Foreman, of Beach Road East, Felixstowe.

"The step just moved when I put my foot on it and I went flying. I put my hands out in front of me but landed straight on a rock and it bent my hand back and shattered my wrist bones.

"My glasses smashed and went in to my face just above my eye. I had blood streaming down my face and I was in agony.

"The doctors said I was lucky not to break both wrists and to have been blinded in one eye.

"I am just so worried that a young child or an elderly person will do the same as I did and end up being even more badly injured."

Mr Foreman, who has to have his wrist in a plaster cast for the next six weeks to let it heal, claimed he was told by beach inspection staff that the faulty step had been reported regularly for the past three years but had not been mended.

Part of the step was missing, sheared off by a combination of wear and tear and the action of the sea dragging the sand and shingle against it, and the rest of the step could be easily moved with only three of the four bolts holding it in place.

The steps lead over a groyne just round Cobbold's Point in front of the sea wall next to Jacob's Ladder. Steps have been put in place because sometimes erosion leaves beach levels low and the groynes barriers too big to step over.

"I have lived here 24 years and walked thebeaches many times and never had an accident – but I could have lost an eye through stepping onto a step that I thought was perfectly safe," said Mr Foreman, who has taken legal advice from solicitors over possible action against Suffolk Coastal District Council.

A council spokesman said the matter would be investigated.

There has been growing concern about the state of the resort's beaches with a number of dangers being highlighted, including five feet drops from the prom to the beach at Cobbold's Point and Manor End.

Erosion has seen an "alarming deterioration" in the groynes with some too tall to get over while some have gaps large enough beneath for a child to crawl through or get trapped.

The council has employed consultants Halcrow to investigate the problems to see what solutions might be possible.

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