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Dog plea after cyclist left in coma

PUBLISHED: 14:36 10 March 2012 | UPDATED: 14:41 10 March 2012

Roz White with her husband Andy.
Photo: Bill Smith

Roz White with her husband Andy. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant

With a fractured skull and an artery to her brain ruptured, Roz White was not expected to survive after a runaway dog caused her to crash her bicycle.

The mother-of-two was in a coma for two weeks after smashing her head on a Bowthorpe cycle path.

But now, almost a year after the accident, the 52-year-old is battling to get working – and cycling – again. And her husband, Andy, is calling for more action to be taken against dog owners who let their animals run out of control.

Mrs White, pictured, was cycling from her home in Primula Drive, Earlham, to her job as as a business manager at Chapel Break Infant School in Bowthorpe, along her normal four-mile route to supervise building work on the first day of the Easter holidays 10 months ago. As she rode her bicycle down Bowthorpe Hall Road cycle path, a dog ran out in front of her. She crashed, and was hurled across the path, smashing her left temple.

Mrs White, who has never worn a helmet cycling, suffered a fractured skull and left eye socket.

It was seven weeks before she would return home after treatment in Addenbrooke’s and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

“I didn’t remember it at all,” she said. “I couldn’t believe when I came round that I had not got anything broken.

“But the worst thing is I’m not allowed to drive with my sight. I used to go on my bike all the time but now my balance is not great.

“I’m not independent any more – I didn’t expect it to be like this.

The hardest bit at the minute is when friends look at me and say: ‘You look really well’.

“That is because I have not got a broken foot or leg. They can’t see the huge scar under my hair.”

Her sight is still restricted due to optic nerve and brain damage.

Other problems include seizures, poor balance, bad hearing and minor aches and pains.

She still needs check-ups and MRI scans.

“I thought when I came home I would be well within a week,” she said. “Doctors are hoping it will get better but they just don’t know.

“In the meantime it is very difficult to do things but I try to stay positive.”

Since the accident her husband, Andy, has been questioning why dog owners can be fined if their pet leaves a mess on the cycle path but no action can be taken in his wife’s case.

Mr White, 60, is calling for better control of dogs to stop a similar crash happening and wrote to his MP Simon Wright and councillors in October after reading coverage in the Evening News about dangerous dogs.

He asked: “Can the scope of dog control be widened to cover the issue of dogs and cycle paths? The paths must surely be part of the highway and surely dogs should be under control in those areas.”

Government plans for tighter dog control are set to be published before Easter after pressure from MPs, but in his wife’s case, where the dog ran out in front of her rather than attacking her, there appears to be little legal action he or the police can take.

Mr White told the Evening News: “The dog owner, as we understand it still walks the dog in the same area in the same way. We have not even been informed formally who the dog owner is or what action the police actually took - all this despite the fact my wife was riding her bicycle legitimately on an approved cycle path in a traffic free area.”

Mrs White has managed to return to work part-time and last October she was back in the saddle, cycling 18 miles for cancer charity the Big C in Holkham.

Mr White, who works for the West Norwich Partnership charity, remained at her side as she fought for her life.

“They didn’t think she would survive to Addenbrooke’s”, he said. “When I saw her at the hospital the blood was pouring out of her. You wouldn’t think somebody could survive it. But here we are: it is remarkable.

“We are immensely grateful to the emergency people who attended to Roz, the PCSOs, Paramedics and A&E staff.

“Without their supreme effort in stabilizing Roz for the journey to Addenbrooke’s she would not have survived. “Once at Addenbrooke’s the care and support that was provided was phenomenal and truly put Roz on the road to recovery.”

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