Wheelchair injury athlete wins payout

An athlete whose hopes of competing for Wales were dashed after she was injured demonstrating a sidecar-mounted wheelchair has been awarded £125,000.

Accomplished 400m sprinter Denise Grist, 39, from Tonypandy in Rhondda, injured her left knee in the accident in Cardiff in 1996.

Ms Grist had got into the wheelchair in a specially adapted motorcycle sidecar during a demonstration for people with disabilities at the city’s Rookwood Hospital where she worked.

Despite asking driver Michael Harper to remain on the hospital grounds, he drove onto surrounding roads at speeds of 60mph and hit a bus, the hearing was told.

“When I got into the sidecar, I made it clear I didn’t want to go out of the hospital grounds,” said the occupational therapist.

“The driver agreed, but subsequently drove out of the open road at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour.

“I shouted for him to slow down but he drove straight into the back of a parked bus.”

The vehicle overturned injuring Ms Grist who subsequently developed a deep vein thrombosis. She has been told it is possible that the condition of her knee could deteriorate further.

She added: “My social life revolved around athletics clubs and I trained six days a week. All that has now gone.”

Ms Grist, who had been due to represent Wales at the Great British Championships a month after the accident, has also forced to cut her hours at work because of pain and swelling.

After the hearing, UNISON’s Head of Personal Injuries, Katy Clark, said: “UNISON is delighted that this case has been settled and that Denise has the option of going back to court if her condition should deteriorate further.

“Hopefully, the compensation should make life a little easier.

“But the money cannot make up for the fact that the accident has put an end to a very active sporting life and has dashed Denise’s hopes of competing for Wales.”