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Norwich man sees light at end of tunnel - 3 months after his leg was crushed under a road roller

Gary Vicary in hospital after being crushed under a road roller in an accident at the roadworks on the A11 near the Ketteringham crossroads.

Picture: Denise Bradley

Gary Vicary in hospital after being crushed under a road roller in an accident at the roadworks on the A11 near the Ketteringham crossroads. Picture: Denise Bradley

Archant © 2011

A Norwich worker whose leg was crushed under a four-tonne road roller said today he could finally see light at the end of the tunnel.

Gary Vicary, 41, from Earlham, was left with a badly broken leg after the roller tipped over while he was driving it along the A11 in March.

His leg also lost a massive chunk of flesh, and in March he underwent a complicated 16-hour operation at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital to save his leg by grafting a skin flap taken from his back onto where his calf muscle used to be.

This week he underwent another operation lasting more than six hours on the broken bones in his leg, and was fitted with a new fixator on his leg, to replace the metal brace.

But last night he was back home - hoepfully for good this time - and he has been told that he will not have to undergo any more operations, hopefully.

However, he’s not out of the woods yet, as there’s still a slight chance that he might lose his leg, and he’s in constant pain which he’s taking medication for.

Despite this he has even had a visit from the Department of Work and Pensions - who wanted to confirm whether he was a legitimate recipient of incapacity benefit.

Speaking from his home for the first time since the accident, the father-of-two spoke about his daily struggle.

He said: “I never realised how difficult being disabled was going to be. Obviously, it’s harder for some people who have lost limbs, and my sympathy goes out to them.

“But I have struggled to cope both physically and mentally. You cannot dress yourself, cook or walk far, and even going up and down the stairs or to the toilet is a nightmare. I have never felt so incapable in all my life.

“I’m a 41-year-old man but I will have to learn to walk again.

“But at least there is some light at the end of the tunnel. I’m stuck inside my flat for most of the time, but that’s better than being stuck inside a hospital, and you just have to live with it and struggle through.”

The self-employed ground worker, who has been in the business 17 years, was driving a road roller in preparation for tarmac to be laid on the A11 near Ketteringham, where a new junction was being built, when the accident happened.

He said it was a “pure accident” that as he was reversing the roller a bank gave way and the machine fell and tipped on to him.

Doctors were unable to insert steel rods into his leg because it was so badly damaged. Instead they put a metal brace on.

He has also been allowed to return home on a permanent basis, as his girlfriend Lisa has agreed to look after him.

He said that before the accident he was an active man and enjoyed cycling, walking, swimming and fishing, but now he was just concentrating on getting better.

He added: “I have got to rest. Obviously, I would love to go out for a walk now, but I cannot. It’s a long drawn out recovery. In three months’ time I’ll probably know how much it’s healed and by Christmas, hopefully I won’t have this contraption on me. But I won’t be running around for a very long time.”

And he said his opinion of his fellow man had also been hit by the lack of sympathy shown to him by members of the public.

He said: “People don’t seem to care and you don’t get anyone helping you when you’re on your crutches and trying to get about.

“I have also had bad experiences going into shops and cafes, where staff have refused to let me sit down, when I needed a rest, without ordering a coffee or whatever. People seem to ignore you and don’t care. Hardly anyone opens the door for you. Disabled people get a really bad time.”

However, he had nothing but praise for the surgeons and staff at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital who saved his leg - and he had particular thanks for Ben Davies and Martin Heaton.

The Health and Safety Executive is investigating the circumstances of the accident.

Are you fighting a long battle to get well again? Call reporter David Bale on 01603 772427 or email david.bale2@archant.co.uk.

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