Man trapped on bathroom floor for days

By Melissa Nightingale -
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A neighbour says family members told them that the day the man was rescued was his birthday. Photo / Bevan Conley
A neighbour says family members told them that the day the man was rescued was his birthday. Photo / Bevan Conley

An elderly Whanganui man trapped on his floor for days was rescued on his birthday.

The 81-year-old fell while going to the toilet and became jammed against the toilet door, unable to move, Constable Anton Willis told the Chronicle.

A neighbour says family members told them that the day the man was rescued was his birthday.

"The neighbours heard him yelling," said Mr Willis, who showed up to the man's Tawhero property after the neighbours called police on Wednesday evening.

"We were looking for a way to break in, but then the man himself, he was able to communicate. I asked him if there was a key outside. He grunted, which meant no. Then the fire brigade arrived and they were awesome.

"They got a window open and cut the security stays. They had to do the same to the toilet where the guy was stuck."

Emergency services couldn't open the door with the man pushed up against it, so they came in through the toilet window and took the door off its hinges.

Uncertainty surrounds how long the man was trapped. Mr Willis said the man could have been there since Thursday last week, as there was a newspaper in his letterbox from that day.

"As far as I could see, he couldn't move, I don't know how he survived. I have no idea as to whether he had water or not but judging by his wounds he had been there a couple of days at least.

"He had some terrible looking wounds on his head and legs.

"He may not have been there that long, but he had been there long enough to cause the damage that I saw."

Mr Willis said some of the injuries looked like "friction wounds" from rubbing against the door and walls.

The man was coherent as he was cared for, Mr Willis said, and told paramedics he felt "terrible".

"I thought he was in a very good way... I was surprised at how well he was, considering.

"He may have had a stroke. He's up in hospital. When I last heard, yesterday afternoon, he was in the stroke recovery unit.

"I'm not sure about his local relations. They're all concerned... I don't think he has much contact with them either. Every now and then he will call around or catch up."

He described the man as "very independent".

Mr Willis was full of praise for the fire brigade, as well as the neighbours who called police.

"The neighbours did a good job when they realised that something was wrong.

"And the man himself, he's a tough old thing. It doesn't really matter whether it was 24 hours of four days -- he survived and did remarkably well."

One of the neighbours who called police said she didn't see the man out often and described him as a "bit of a hermit fella", but he was happy to say hello over the fence.

She said it was "absolutely" unusual for him to not clear his letterbox, and whenever she saw him he was out mowing his lawns or tending his gardens.

"He was very mobile... he was still going golfing, still driving around in his car."

The woman, who did not want to be named, said she was outside talking to another neighbour on Wednesday evening when they noticed the man's letterbox was "absolutely chocka full of all sorts of newspapers and everything".

The pair became concerned and banged on the man's door.

"We started hearing moaning and asked him if he needed help and he said yes."

After the man was rescued, a family member turned up and said it was the man's birthday, the woman said.

"He's a real sweetie, you know. He'd never hurt a fly, from what I knew of him."

The woman said she was reminded every time she looked next door about how things could have turned out.

"He could have died in there, easily could have died."

She encouraged others to make sure their elderly family members' neighbours knew where spare keys were kept, and said medical alarms for seniors were a good idea.

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