Father speaks of Warbleton derby crash horror

Peacehaven boy injured in Soap Box Derby - photo by permission of his father
Peacehaven boy injured in Soap Box Derby - photo by permission of his father

A father has described the moment his four-year-old son’s leg was smashed during a Bank Holiday soap box derby where two three-year-olds were also seriously injured.

The father, from Peacehaven, who does not want to be named, said: “My little boy had his femur snapped as we leapt out of the way. He’s in traction in Brighton hospital and will be for quite a while. We’ve been told he could be in a half body cast for a month or so. The poor family next to us were wiped out by the kart as it flew by and there were mothers screaming and running up the hill with their kids seeking assistance.”

The nightmare collision happened just after 3pm during the Church Hill Challenge where karts race down the hill from the Black Duck pub at Warbleton, which organised the event.

A police spokesman said: “Emergency services were called after reports of a collision in which seven people were injured. Two three-year-old local children, who are cousins and among spectators watching the Warbleton event on a cordoned-off stretch of road, sustained serious head injuries when a pedal-driven kart left the road and hit spectators.”

The girl, from Hailsham, was taken by air ambulance to Kings College Hospital, London, and the boy, from Herstmonceux, was taken by air ambulance to St George’s Hospital, also in London. Their conditions were critical.

Three other spectators were injured, a 20-year-old woman, taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, Brighton, with arm injuries, a four-year-old Peacehaven boy taken to the same hospital with leg injuries, and a 37-year-old man taken to the Conquest Hospital, Hastings with a leg injury.

The 36-year-old Rushlake Green man driving the kart suffered a minor knee injury which did not need hospital treatment, and a 60-year-old woman on the same kart sustained an arm injury.

Police carried out initial enquiries, spoke to the event organisers and witnesses and are also keeping in contact with the victims and families involved.

“They are also informing Wealden District Council so that they can establish the full circumstances and decide what action should be taken, as the road was closed at the time.”

The boy’s father went on: “I think there’s quite a bit to say about safety on the day. I didn’t see any first aiders.

“We had to wait about 20 minutes for help other than goodwilled people.”

Pub landlady Nikki Kinnell said: “We heard on Wednesday that the two cousins are awake and talking to parents. Our thoughts are with the injured people and we wish them well. This is the third year we’ve run the event which was in aid of a prostate cancer charity.”

A Wealden District Council spokesman said: “We are working with the police and the organisers of the event to find out more about the circumstances that led to this accident. It should have been an enjoyable Bank Holiday occasion and our thoughts are with the two children who sustained serious injuries, and their families.”