Nfld. & Labrador

St. John's woman slips on icy sidewalk, breaks leg in 3 places

Set designer, Kelly Bruton, broke her leg in three places after slipping on an icy sidewalk in St. John's, and says the city could do more to keep walkers safe.
Kelly Bruton won't be enjoying the outdoors as much with a broken leg. (Submitted by Kelly Bruton)

A slip and fall on an icy sidewalk has sidelined a St. John's set designer, and now she's calling on the city to do more to keep pedestrians safe.

Kelly Bruton fell in early January while walking on Livingston Street in the city's downtown, and broke her leg in three places.

"There's a break in three parts of the leg ... a tibia break, a fibula break and the ankle bone was separated from the fibula," Bruton told CBC Radio's On The Go.

She needed surgery to have screws put in, to ensure proper alignment, and she's mad at the city for not doing a better job of clearing sidewalks.

"Pedestrian safety, especially in the winter is really a basic human right, to be able to move freely where you live without any fear of having any injury," said Bruton.

"I live downtown so that I can be a pedestrian ... it's one thing to clear the snow away but you need to create a surface that has walkability and safety for a pedestrian," she said.

Kelly Bruton broke her leg in three places after slipping on the ice and she says the city of St. John's needs to do something about its slippery side walks. (Submitted by Kelly Bruton)

Bruton said she chooses to walk instead of driving or taking a bus and there are many other people in the city like her.

She plans her route everyday, walks slowly and knows what spots to keep an eye out for, but even taking those extra precautions, she's always had a fear of falling.

She said the city's current snow clearing plan, which pushes snow to either side of the sidewalk, just isn't doing a good job.

The snow melts and creates ice in the walking paths and she said to cross a street, a lot of times you have to jump over banks of frozen ice.

Added blow

Bruton was employed as a set decorator on the series Frontier before her injury but is now unemployed.

"It really means that there is zero income … it means I can't work," said Bruton.

"These are time-sensitive schedules and really high-energy work, so I mean they just move onto the next person, that's just how it works."

Bruton says conditions like this on city sidewalks make it dangerous to walk. (CBC )

Ironically, Bruton has been an advocate for sidewalk safety for years.

In 2013, she started a Facebook page to help make the city aware of the safety concerns.

"I want them to know how serious this is," said Bruton.

"I've had so many falls ... now time has caught up with me and now I'm sitting back in the middle of winter immobilized."

Solving the problem

Bruton said she doesn't have all the answers but said the city could create some sort of "green zones" where certain sidewalk routes get extra cleaning and salting to make them safer for pedestrians.

"I don't want this to happen to anybody else," she said.

"It's infuriating to listen about how much talk there is in the morning about the conditions of the roads, when you know that there is a large percentage of the population that's walking on the sidewalks to get to work, or on the street."