Boy playing football in park suffers horrendous injury from broken bottle

Edgar ap Hywel in Trevor Street park in Aberdare, where he badly injured his leg
-Credit: (Image: Richard Swingler Photography)

A boy suffered a horrendous knee injury due to litter in a playing area. Edgar ap Hywel, 11, was playing football with a friend last Monday at Trevor Street park in Aberdare when his knee landed on a broken bottle obscured in long grass — and the glass went through his leg causing a serious tear of the tendon between his kneecap and shinbone.

Edgar faces at least six weeks in a knee brace and a three-month wait before he can play sports. In a message to those who litter, his mum Liisa ap Hywel said: "It could have caused even more serious injuries. A few people have said he was lucky it was his knee. If you litter an intact bottle that's one thing, but breaking bottles is even more needless and it creates a huge danger for children and animals."

Edgar, who landed on the bottle when diving to save a shot, suffered a tear across three quarters of the tendon. He was losing a lot of blood and could see bone as he video-called his parents, who drove him to hospital where he had emergency surgery. Liisa sent a message alerting Rhondda Cynon Taf council, which is responsible for the park. "I didn't get a reply so I contacted them again two days later," said the 38-year-old teacher. "They found my file and said I would be contacted within 10 days. I had to explain I was surprised they did not want to know the location so they could check it was not a danger to other users. They then took the details and said they would send someone out and someone would be in touch about my complaint within 10 days.

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"I was expecting a bit more of a human response and an acknowledgement that playgrounds should be safe places for children. They seemed to be treating it the same as a complaint about bins not being emptied. I've heard local residents cleaned up the park after my son was injured but it didn't seem like it was a priority for the council to make sure it was safe."

Liisa said the park is not a drinking hotspot and is not usually littered with broken bottles but she estimates the grass was "a good 20 cm long" and would like to see it kept shorter to prevent similar incidents. She added that sport is a "huge" part of life for Edgar, who runs for Aberdare athletics club and plays football for Aberdare town, and he is gutted to be facing at least three months on the sidelines.

Edgar ap Hywel in Trevor Street park in Aberdare
Edgar ap Hywel's injury

Edgar said: "All the people out there who [throw] glass bottles, please do not, because you never know what's going to happen. It is dangerous for anyone involved in an incident and glass is a very strong material that can hurt you a lot. I'm not going to this park again because I don't feel safe and I don't feel like I'm going to be able to stop people leaving glass bottles. So whoever you are, don't throw glass bottles."

A Rhondda Cynon Taf council spokesman said: "The council is deeply saddened to hear of Edgar’s injuries and wishes him a full and speedy recovery. There is never an excuse to litter and this incident just shows the horrific consequences of someone’s foolish actions. It’s so important that we all take responsibility for our litter and use the litter bins that are provided in council-owned parks throughout the county borough. Anyone found littering in Rhondda Cynon Taf will be held accountable and will receive a £100 fine or face court action. The council’s parks team carry out cleansing of Trevor Street park weekly and regularly visit all parks across the county borough. Our priority is and remains the safety and wellbeing of all residents, especially our younger ones.

“The team have attended the park and carried out a full inspection of the area. The council has also become aware of some regular antisocial behaviour issues in the park during the evenings and will now be working with its partners in South Wales Police to combat this.”