'He is lucky to be alive': Chesterfield man, 20, hospitalised for three days after displaced manhole cover caused car to flip upside down

A Chesterfield man is ‘lucky to be alive’ according to doctors, after a displaced manhole cover caused his car to flip upside down during a storm last week.

Tuesday, 18th May 2021, 10:30 am

Double glazing firm worker, Zac Bell, was hospitalised for three nights and has been left with severe ligament damage to his neck following a collision on Tapton View Road on Tuesday, May 11.

The 20-year-old from from Wheeldon Mill, was travelling during the thunder and lightning at around 9.40pm when he drove over a broken manhole cover, causing the car to flip onto its roof.

Derbyshire Police who were called to the scene, along with paramedics after witnesses saw the crash, confirmed that highways officers from Derbyshire County Council also attended to repair the manhole cover in the aftermath of the incident.

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Zac Bell, who was driving, spent three nights in hospital and now has severe ligament damage to his neck.

Zac’s father Matt is concerned there is a substantial blockage in the drain, which has caused water to back up with extreme pressure then lifting the cover.

He believes this has caused half of the manhole cover to fall inside the hole, while the other jammed underneath his son’s Volvo C30 when he drove over it, causing the vehicle to end up on its bonnet.

Zac has to wear a neck brace for the next three months and requires physiotherapy and further neck and back scans.

Matt has called for a full investigation from Derbyshire County Council, which owns Tapton View Road and Yorkshire Water, which is responsible for the manhole and drainage system, into the cause of the crash.

A displaced manhole cover on Tapton View Road in Chesterfield caused a 20-year-old man's car to flip upside last week.

It comes after he shared a video from a resident on the same street in June 2019, which shows water overflowing from the manhole – sparking concerns that there is a blockage.

He said: "It's secure now but they've not investigated the problem fully, there is clearly still a problem in the drain because it is blocking and backing back up.

"It has clearly been an issue for some time, the residents have told me they've reported it since June last year.

"The council have been out three times to replace and put the manhole covers back on but they've clearly not looked at the source.

Aftermath of the collision shows half of the displaced manhole cover.

"Now I am not an engineer but I understand how drainage works but no drains above were being lifted and no drains below which means that just down stream from where that manhole is there is a problem somewhere.

"Something needs to be done to investigate the root problem and for it to be sorted because next time, it might not be someone with injuries, it might be someone losing their life."

The local authority has now confirmed they will work together with the waterboard to investigate ‘any previous enquiries’ on Tapton View Road and Yorkshire Water said they are looking into the sewer network for any issues.

Matt described his son, who only recently left hospital, as ‘extremely shaken’ and ‘lost’ as he had no memory of the initial crash – which means Zac’s almost £7,000 ‘pride and joy’ that he bought a few months ago will likely be written off.

An image taken on the night of the crash shows how high water levels were underneath the broken manhole cover.

The father explained how his family have had a ‘traumatic’ year already with his wife losing both her dad and her uncle in the space of nine months and shared how he felt when he got the call that his son had crashed.

“I am disgusted that he has to have all these things in place to ensure he's roadworthy, his MOT, his road tax, his car insurance, to make sure he's all legal then he's able to drive down a road which quite clearly isn't safe”, he added.

"But more than that I'm concerned and worried for other people.

"We do everything to protect our children and we make sure that we bring them up right and they do things that are within the law and they have the proper things in place, their car is insured, the car is road taxed, the tyres are roadworthy.

"We bring them up that way and for him to be able to even have this accident, it could have been anyone.

"He is so lucky to be alive and they said that at the hospital.

Derbyshire County Council workers have since replaced the cover on Tapton View Road, following the collision.

"But he is also unlucky that he was driving there at that time because if somebody else had drove down there and it happened to them, he would have seen it.”

A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said: “We were very sorry to hear of this accident and hope that Zac makes a good recovery.

“A senior officer spoke to Mr Bell about the accident and promised to look into the circumstances, and has since updated him with progress.

“We are investigating to see if we have had any previous enquiries about this location before this accident.

"Although the manhole is on our road, it belongs to Yorkshire Water, and we have brought this to their attention.

"Yorkshire Water have assured us they will replace the cover, and are to carry out a full investigation into the drains below to identify if there are any further issues that need their attention.

“We will continue to liaise with Yorkshire Water to make sure this investigation is done as quickly as possible, and that if they do find any issues they are dealt with promptly.”

In a statement, Yorkshire Water commented: “We were made aware of the incident and attended to repair the manhole cover. Investigations are underway into the sewer network on Tapton View Road for any operational issues.”

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