Man, 37, died after noticing blister on leg which was sign of rare bacterial infection
A man died after cutting his leg when he fell into a lake – causing a rare ‘flesh-eating’ bacterial infection.
Ben Smith-Crallan, 37, developed Necrotising Fasciitis (NF) – sometimes called the “flesh-eating disease” – in 2018.
The infection broke out after fell into water and hurt himself at Botanic Gardens in Churchtown, Southport.
It first caused a blister to appear on his leg before the problem escalated and saw Ben being placed into a coma.
Eventually, the Ben had to have his leg amputated – before he tragically died from the infection.
His dad, Peter Smith-Crallan, has now appealed for railings to be built around the lake.
He said: “If railings had been in place around the lake when Ben fell in, then my son wouldn’t have died.
“What happened to Ben would not have happened.
“Why have railings not been put up before now?
“What happened to Ben, I don’t want to see that happen to any other family.
“They need to put railings around the lake and take regular water samples. The water in there is so bad that drowning there would be the least of your worries.
“The lake needs cleaning up, and water aeration fountains put in.
“That lake has not been touched for the last 40 years.
“How many people visit that park every year? 100,000? You can’t take a gamble with their safety.”
Peter said that Ben first mistook the infection for gout when he decided to go to see his GP.
He said: “A few days later, I took Ben to the Roe Lane GP Surgery in Southport. He had big blisters on his leg. I didn’t think anything was seriously wrong.
“I dropped him off there and said I would pick him up after his appointment.
“But the next time I saw him, he was lying in a hospital bed with 15 tubes in him.”
Peter and his family are now urging as many people as possible to support the Make A Change For Ben campaign which wants to see the lake cleaned and safety measures such as water aeration fountains installed.
The group was set up by Ben’s best friend David Rawsthorne, and has already gained over 4,000 supporters through Facebook.
It has also attracted nine celebrity backers, including Liverpool FC legend Alan Hansen, Radio 1 DJ Adele Roberts and golfer Tommy Fleetwood, and raised over £10,000 towards vital safety work being carried out.
The Make A Change For Ben campaign is determined to ensure that the lake is made safe for all the tens of thousands of families who visit the park every year.
Peter said: “I think it is brilliant what David and the Make A Change For Ben campaign have achieved so far. He has done superbly well to get so many local people and so many celebrities involved in backing the campaign.
“I want to see more people getting involved with the Make A Change For Ben campaign, and to donate what they can to our appeal.
“When Ben died, I was very angry. I wrote a lot of emails to a lot of people, but I didn’t really get anywhere. I was upset with everyone, and everything.
“That’s the good thing about the campaign and all the people who are now supporting it.
“It’s much easier to take notice of thousands of people rather than just one.
“I would love to see more people join the campaign to improve the Botanic Gardens.
“Because I have been in business for 40 years I know that there are certain things that should happen and certain things that should not be allowed to happen.
“I would like to see a risk assessment for the lake at the Botanic Gardens. What would the Health and Safety Executive say about the lake? Have they seen any water analysis tests?
“The need to put railings around the lake, take regular water samples and get it cleaned up as soon as possible.”
Plans are now being put in place for work on the lake to be undertaken.
Earlier this month, Sefton Council outlined ideas for up to £30,000 in improvements for the lake and lakeside area.
These include new water aeration fountains, the installation of new fencing and secure lifeline stations, as well as plans for annual community clean-up events.
Councillors and council officers, Make A Change For Ben campaigners and the Botanic Gardens Community Association met to discuss the proposals.
All agreed the importance of prioritising the aerating fountains as the first phase.
Funding for the phased lakeside improvements is set to come from community fundraising schemes, local ward budgets and the Green Sefton Service.