Published: 23/12/2017 07:00 - Updated: 22/12/2017 10:51

Inverness man dies after falling on ice

Written byDonna MacAllister


ice pavements
Ice brought treacherous conditions across Inverness last week.

A 91-YEAR-old man has died after slipping on an icy pavement in Inverness.

Walter Osborne broke his hip in the fall during last week’s cold spell and underwent hip replacement surgery.

But the retired Inverness College lecturer died of heart failure on Tuesday, while in recovery at Raigmore Hospital.

His grieving widow Margaret said: "To lose a loved one just because of a few bits of grit not being spread on the pavement is unbelievable. I just want to make sure that this doesn’t happen to anyone else."

Inverness Ness-side councillor Ron MacWilliam said the weather made it difficult for road workers to treat the network effectively.

But he added: "Of course Mrs Osborne is right. If her husband had not had this fall none of this would have happened; it would not have set that chain of events in motion. I sympathise with her greatly."

Council leader Margaret Davidson made a commitment last week to review winter maintenance arrangements "as soon as possible" and "make any necessary changes within the current budget".

Mrs Osborne said the tragedy happened in Culduthel Road on Tuesday last week during a week-long freeze which left many roads and pavements like ice rinks.

She said the grandfather-of-two felt he needed to stretch his legs after wintry conditions had kept the couple cooped up inside for four days.

"He was really wanting to get out of the house because he liked to have his walk every day," said Mrs Osborne.

"He felt he was starting to stiffen up."

The couple, from Slackbuie Crescent, walked to the Scotmid in Green Drive.

Mrs Osborne (87) said: "The pavements were pretty rough with ice but you could get a grip, we had on good footwear. We got there all right.

"We took a different route back and we stopped to speak to someone but he just kept on walking. There was a really icy patch, it was just smooth and he fell."

Passers-by rushed to Mr Osborne’s aid and an ambulance was called.

Mrs Osborne added: "When they sat him in the chair at the side of the road he was OK. But he couldn’t move his right leg. An ambulance took him to hospital and he had a hip replacement operation the next morning.

"He was improving day by day and we were told he might be home for Christmas. But then he got taken into high dependency and he died. They said his heart just gave out."

Mr Osborne had a long-term heart condition which he had been managing since the early 2000s. He also had dementia but his heartbroken wife believes he would still be alive had it not been for the fall on the ice.

The couple, who have four children, "did everything together" she said.

"It’s going to be terrible without him. We still can’t believe it."

The icy conditions put the council in the eye of a storm last week with local residents angry that key routes were not cleared of ice and social media a hive of stories about injuries caused by slips and falls.

Culloden and Ardersier councillor Roddy Balfour had to go to A&E with a gash on the back of his head after slipping in the council’s own untreated HQ car park in Glenurquhart Road.

And pedestrians reported having to walk on busy main roads to avoid compacted ice on pavements.

Gritting was cut back on more than 25 roads in the Inverness area in 2015 to save £440,000.

Cllr MacWilliam, who was only elected in May, was surprised the budget was cut without any major community involvement strategies being put into place.

He said: "If you pull away funding for a community service like gritting you know that the inevitable result will be that the work will not get done and we have a responsibility in my view to find some alternative way of doing it."

He said he was committed to ensuring residents were more involved in salting their own local streets and pavements and said he would campaign for more grit bins.

A council spokeswoman said gritting priorities for the Inverness area were agreed at a meeting of the city of Inverness area committee in September 2017.

"Primary routes are gritted Mondays to Saturdays 6am to 9pm and on Sundays and public holidays from 7am to 9pm," she said.

"Secondary routes will follow the completion of primary routes and are gritted Mondays to Saturdays from 6am to 6pm within available resources.

"‘Other’ routes are treated as resources permit.

"In extreme conditions all efforts will be made to keep primary routes clear."

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