A WIGAN couple had a lucky escape after a 4ins metal bolt was blasted through their lounge window.
By pure good fortune Simon and Mary Turton had left the room at their home in Elm Avenue, Golborne, moments earlier to watch TV when they heard a crash “like a gun had gone off.”
They believe a tractor mower cutting grass verges more than 25 yards away accidentally shot the deadly missile at their house after it became caught in its blades. They are not sure whether the bolt fell off the contractor’s mower or had been dropped by someone else on the grass.
Mr Turton is relieved that the incident happened on a school day because his six-year-old son Alex loves playing with model cars on the window sill.
A spokesman for Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, which manages the grass-cutting contract for the council, said: “The smashed window was reported to us at approximately 1.20pm, our officers arrived to investigate at 1.40pm.
“Our rotary grass cutter was trimming the verges 20 yards away at around 10.30am. Our vehicles are fitted with permanent guards preventing incidents like this from occurring. In addition all sites are inspected for debris before mowing, in line with our risk assessments.
“We are still investigating the incident but are working with the residents in the meantime to get their property secured.”
Because of the security risk Mr Turton had the glazing replaced the same day before any acceptance of culpability. He is now locked in negotiation with the council over the cost of repairs. Officers from the authority have visited him and studied the bolt without comment - although it isn’t yet clear if it will agree legal responsibilty.
Mr Turton is now calling for a probe into how the bolt was able to be “fired” from the mower.
He said that a guard skirt system the machine employs should not have allowed it to happen and he now wonders if it had malfunctioned.
He said: “It could have killed somebody, it really could. The bolt is clearly new because it is still gleaming and there are cuts in it where the blades of the mower have picked it up.”
Mr Turton went out to talk to the tractor driver but he was driving off, apparently unaware of the incident. He called the council and within 10 minutes, three officials had called at his home to examine the damage. Initially the contractor denied that his vehicle had been responsible for the damage. But, claims Mr Turton, an officer later conceded that it may have been accidentally caused by the mower.
Now Mr Turton has learned that the same thing happened to his next door neighbour two years ago, when a brick end was picked up by a similar machine and flung through a window.
Mr Turnton said: “The mower was between 20 and 30ft away so, for it to punch through the window like this from that distance, shows just what sort of speed it was travelling at. I think my wife and myself have had a very lucky escape.”