Nfld. & Labrador

Pedestrian strikes back at city after downtown fall shatters ankle

Steph Power is pinning the blame for her broken ankle on the City of St. John's, after she says she fell on a downtown hill that wasn't salted despite icy conditions.

Steph Power says lack of salt on Barter’s Hill led to the incident

Steph Power is looking at two months off work after falling and breaking her ankle early Wednesday morning. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

Steph Power just wanted to get to work on time.

On Wednesday, she left her downtown St. John's house at around 6:30 a.m. and started walking down Barter's Hill to her bus stop.

But she didn't make it.

"I hit a massive patch of ice and just fell and I fell onto my left side and saw my foot like totally bend," said Power. "And now it's broken."

Power was walking down Barter's Hill, on what she says was a clear day, when she slipped and fell on black ice. (Andrew Sampson/CBC)

Instead of spending the day baking at her job at Jumping Bean, she found herself spending all morning in the emergency room at St. Clare's Mercy Hospital.

Surgery to repair her ankle is scheduled for Thursday, and doctors have told her she's looking at eight weeks off work, something Power said she can't afford.

She's pinning the blame for the fall on the City of St. John's, and a complete lack of salt where she fell. 

"I can't believe the city just like let it get like that," she said. "This morning it was nice. If they knew it was cold, I don't know why they didn't just go out and put some [salt]."

Long road to recovery

Power said she walks the same route to the bus stop every day, and was wearing Blundstone boots at the time. 

One side of Barter's Hill was covered in ice on Wednesday, she said, so she decided to walk to the cleared sidewalk on the other side of the road. 

"I was very vigilant. I'm not the kind of person who will walk around looking at my phone or anything," said Power

Power says there was no salt on the ground as she walked to the bus stop. (Ryan Cooke/CBC)

But when she hit black ice, she said, there was nothing she could do.

She said she waited around 25 minutes before an ambulance was able to get her to the hospital.

"This piece of ice was so gigantic I don't think I would have been able to get around it," said Power.

"Even the emergency team that came by like had a bit of a struggle getting up to get me because it was so icy there."

Barter's Hill a Priority 1 street

The City of St. John's said in a statement that it can't "speak to specifics of this incident," and directed CBC News to a website that lists its snow-clearing and salting policies. 

That policy states "city crews will complete one application of salt on all streets within three hours of ice conditions."

According to the document, streets that are categorized as Priority 1, such as Barter's Hill, are expected to be done by snow-clearing and salt crews first.

Power maintains there had been no salt put down Wednesday.when she slipped.

At the time of her fall, Environment Canada recorded a temperature of –8 C at the St. John's International Airport.

"I think they just really need to up their game. Like this isn't news, it's something that happens every winter," said Power, who added she's considering taking legal action. 

"I used to live in Mount Pearl and they have perfect snow clearing.… This would never have happened if I still lived there."

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About the Author

Andrew Sampson is a journalist with CBC News in St. John's.

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