A teenager left paralysed and wheelchair bound after being impaled on railings in a cycling accident is furious after being sent a letter – demanding payment for the damaged fence.
Ben Foulds, 18, was nearly killed when he skidded on wet leaves, careered into a metal railing then plunged 15ft onto the road below with an eight-inch long section of railing speared into his ribs.
He suffered a broken back and swelling on the brain and has since been told he will probably never walk again.
The letter from Devon County Council arrived last week informing him he was to be charged for the cost of repairing the railing.
Yesterday his furious mother Claire, 46, said: “It is quite amazing the council would send something like that.
“It is quite insensitive considering he is still in hospital and is in a wheelchair because of the accident. I was speechless when I read it.”
Claire has since passed the letter to her solicitor, adding: “I could not be dealing with it. We have enough on our plate and we don’t want another thing like this to deal with.”
The letter read: ”It has been reported to me that you caused damage to a section of railings alongside the highway which belongs to Devon County Council.
”The council is entitled to recover the costs from the person responsible for the damage.
”An invoice will be raised in due course in respect of the cost of these works and sent to you for settlement.”
Ben, of Barnstaple, Devon, was cycling at around 5pm on November 2 last year when he skidded on leaves and lost control.
He careered off the road before impaling himself on a metal railing, which embedded 8inches into his body, and fell 15ft onto the hard concrete below.
He was rushed to hospital, where he underwent a series of operations including remove part of Ben’s skull because his brain was so badly swollen.
Doctors sedated him for two weeks and when he came round was told he was lucky to be alive, but the head trauma of the accident had left him paralysed from the waist down.
At the beginning of December, Ben was then transferred to the Duke of Cornwall Spinal Treatment Centre near Salisbury, Wilts., for rehabilitation, where he is desperately trying to regain the use of his legs.
Speaking of the accident last year, Ben said it has had a profound effect on his life, but was taking his rehabilitation ”day by day”.
He said: “I am trying to be positive because I’m fed up with being sad or depressed. But it is still hard to believe it.
“I can’t remember anything about the accident but I occasionally dream of what I imagine happened.
“I went down that hill 80 times a month and then one day, that just happened.
“It is miraculous I am still alive. I find it difficult to be grateful because I’m still in this state, but hopefully that will change.
“I am slowly learning to use the wheelchair and can’t wait to have my independence back.
”It’s tough relying on other people.”
Devon County Council yesterday apologised for the letter and have withdrawn their demand for costs.
A spokesman said: “This letter is a mistake and should not have been sent. We will not be asking the family to pay for the damage.
“We apologise to them for the concern and distress that this may have caused them.”