Appeal for witnesses after workman blinded in explosion

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Appeal for witnesses after workman blinded in explosion

21st April 2011

Lawyers representing the young workman who was left blind in one eye after an early-morning explosion in New Malden last month are appealing for witnesses to come forward.

The 24-year-old from Bromley, Kent, is still receiving treatment in hospital for a catalogue of injuries, more than three weeks after the explosion at the junction of Cleveland Road and the busy A2043 Kingston Road at around 7.30am on Friday, 18 March.

Bob Miller, the specialist lawyer representing the injured man, is hoping anyone who witnessed the incident or who might be able to shed some light on the cause of the explosion will come forward with vital information.

"This young man was part of a team from Selwood Ltd which had supplied equipment to workers repairing a collapsed sewer on behalf of Thames Water," said Mr Miller, a serious injury expert with Fentons Solicitors LLP. "All that is known for sure is that there was an explosion, and he was left with severe injuries to his head, face and arms when a piece of metal hit him and knocked him to the ground during the explosion.

"He has been left blinded in his right eye, has a metal plate in his broken left wrist, received injuries to his teeth and face and suffered such a blow to the head that the extent of any brain injury is still unclear," said Mr Miller. "We urgently need anyone with information about the incident to come forward so that we can look to securing this man and his family the help and assistance they might need in the future."

Mr Miller said that although the cause of the explosion was still being investigated by police and the Health & Safety Executive, two theories as to how the explosion happened had emerged.

"We have heard reports of how some residents had complained about noise made by a generator being used at the site," he said, "and have been told that someone unconnected to the work itself may have switched off the machine on a number of occasions.

"We believe that if this did happen, it could have caused a build-up of methane gas, which then ignited when my client switched on a piece of machinery," said Mr Miller.

"Alternatively, it is also possible there was gas leaking from nearby underground pipework, which would have led to the same disastrous explosion."

Mr Miller said that because an investigation was ongoing, police were not allowed to release any witness accounts of the incident to the victim's family and their lawyers. "We now urgently need witnesses to come forward with their description of what happened," he said.

"The work site was close to a very busy stretch of road, and obviously there would have been lots of people making their way to work at around 7.30 that Friday morning," said Mr Miller. "We're asking anyone who saw the explosion or the minutes leading up to it, or anyone who might have information about the noisy generator being switched off in the run-up to the incident, to please get in touch."

Can you help?
If you remember seeing the explosion near the junction of Cleveland Road and the A2043 Kingston Road, at around 7.30m on Friday, 18 March, or if you have information which you think might help, please contact Bob Miller at Fentons Solicitors LLP on 0161 238 6476. Alternatively please e-mail bob.miller@fentons.co.uk. All information will be treated in the strictest confidence, and any detail could be hugely important to this case.

Read media coverage of this story at: Kingston Guardian, Surrey Comet, This Is Local London