Falls fuel fresh anger over Warkworth footpath hazards

Posted at 8:00am Tuesday 16 Feb, 2021

Saffron Schedewy-Johnson, right, feared her grandmother might die.
Saffron Schedewy-Johnson, right, feared her grandmother might die.

Pat Schedewy shortly after the accident.
Pat Schedewy shortly after the accident.

Frustration over the state of Warkworth's footpaths has again boiled to the surface after two women were hospitalised, following horrific trips and falls at the same place on Elizabeth Street within three days.

And Rodney Local Board member Tim Holdgate, whose wife, Yvonne, suffered in one of the falls, says a botched repair job by Auckland Transport has made footpath worse than it was before.

The first fall occurred on Wednesday, January 27, when Pat Schedewy, 76, tripped on an uneven patchwork of concrete and fell flat on her face.

She was accompanied at the time by her granddaughter Saffron Schedewy-Johnson, 16.
Saffron says she feared for her grandmother's life, as she subsequently went in and out and consciousness and suffered several seizures while Saffron cradled her in her arms.

Saffron had the presence of mind to call her mother, Katrina, who arrived within minutes from Life Pharmacy where she works.

An ambulance was called and then, following a long delay, called a second time when Pat's condition deteriorated further.

Meanwhile, police arrived with  resuscitation equipment and a defibrillator.

Pat subsequently spent two nights in hospital. Upon her release, her daughter, Vanessa, travelled up from Taupo to help take care of her when it proved she needed assistance getting washed and dressed.

“She was very frustrated and weepy because she is a very independent woman. She does not like being a burden,” Katrina says.

AT undertook some repairs to the footpath on Wednesday evening, but on Friday, Yvonne Holdgate, 64, tripped in the same area and broke her hip – putting her in hospital for several days.

Mr Holdgate says ATs repair on Wednesday was just a “slap-happy” job that placed some bitumen to even out one small area that required attention, but this simply exacerbated the uneven surface, and a much larger area needed to be covered.

“AT is renowned for these little patch-up jobs, but that flies in the face of the importance of the thing,” he says.

Mr Holdgate has lodged a formal complaint with AT, insisting they should be auditing Warkworth's footpaths in a much better way.

His sentiments are echoed by Vanessa Schedewy, who notes that Warkworth has a large elderly population especially vulnerable to falls.

“Is it going to take someone falling over and killing themselves before the footpaths are fixed properly?” she asks.

Mr Holdgate says he will also lobby fellow Rodney Local Board members to allocate money from Rodney's Transport Targeted Rate to upgrading footpaths.

AT spokesperson Mark Hannan says AT was disturbed to hear that two people have been injured on the footpath and plans to replace a section of about 50 metres within the next month.

Mr Hannan says that in the meantime, the footpath has been made safe and the work was done within two hours of the first accident.

He did not comment on Mr Holdgate's assertion that the repair job made the situation worse, nor, if it had been made safe why a second accident had occurred.

He did say Auckland Transport inspects footpaths regularly to ensure that they are up to the required standard.

In February 2019, Mahurangi Matters reported the case of an 85-year-old-woman who had to be hospitalised after tripping on a footpath hazard in Percy Street, Warkworth. The incident sparked an audit of footpath trip hazards in Warkworth and the repair of several danger spots.


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