‘It’s a death trap’ – Letchworth family condemns Avenue Park Splash Pad in Baldock after three-year-old boy tumbles and suffers suspected skull fracture

Louie Morris, 3, who fell and suffered a suspected fractured skull at Baldock's West Avenue Splash P

Louie Morris, 3, who fell and suffered a suspected fractured skull at Baldock's West Avenue Splash Pad on Sunday. - Credit: Archant

A children’s splash park in Baldock has been labelled a ‘death trap’ after a three-year-old boy slipped on overgrown algae and suffered a suspected skull fracture.

The Splash Pad in Baldock's Avenue Park, where three-year-old Letchworth boy Louie Morris suffered a

The Splash Pad in Baldock's Avenue Park, where three-year-old Letchworth boy Louie Morris suffered a suspected skull fracture. - Credit: Archant

North Herts District Council, which runs the Splash Pad in Avenue Park, reacted to the incident on Sunday afternoon by turning off the water, closing the area and starting a safety investigation.

Louie Morris lost his footing while stepping off a decorative concrete boulder, smacking the back of his head against the rock as he fell backwards. He spent two nights in hospital.

“It’s neglect,” said Georgina Mullins, Louie’s grandmother, who had taken him to the park for the day to give his pregnant mum Shannan Mullins a break.

“It’s the algae. Because of that it’s slippery as anything. I had flip-flops on and even I had a little slip.

The boulders and algae at the Splash Pad in Avenue Park in Baldock, where three-year-old Louie Morri

The boulders and algae at the Splash Pad in Avenue Park in Baldock, where three-year-old Louie Morris slipped, fell and fractured his skull. - Credit: Archant


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“When the water came in they should have jet-washed it.

“He’s in hospital now and I’m worried sick about him. I haven’t slept. I just want to help prevent other kids from being injured.”

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A district council spokeswoman said on Tuesday that the splash pad had been cleaned before it reopened for the summer last month.

Georgina only took Louie, who lives in Letchworth, to the splash area in the first place because she thought the one in Letchworth would be busy.

“We laid down a picnic basket and he was playing, he loved it,” she said.

“He stood up on one of the boulders. Then he went to step down and it was like it happened in slow motion. His leg’s gone from under him. I thought at first he’d broken his neck.”

Georgina noticed a big lump on the back of Louie’s neck, and took him to Stevenage’s Lister Hospital. He threw up repeatedly.

After a CT scan he was initially given the all-clear, but as the family left the hospital they were called back and told a fracture had been found.

Doctors have not yet decided if it is Louie’s skull or growth plate that has been fractured. He was sent home on Tuesday evening but will have to go back for another scan soon.

Georgina and her friend Fiona Allen returned to the splash pad on Monday to take pictures of the algae, and advised others of the danger.

Fiona said: “It should be closed now. It’s green with algae, it’s like ice.

“And why there are boulders in a children’s play area? Children are going to climb on them and it’s an accident waiting to happen.

“If I’d had a loudspeaker I’d have cleared that park. It’s treacherous, a death trap.”

New splash areas being built by the council in Hitchin and Royston, scheduled to open in the next few weeks, do not have such boulders.

Councillor Jane Gray, the district council’s executive member for leisure, said: “Following an accident on Sunday we have temporarily turned off the water, pending a safety investigation.

“The splash pad was cleaned prior to its opening in May. However the safety of children using the facility is of paramount importance to us and we will decide on any further action following our investigation.”

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