A four-year-old boy lucky to live after getting wedged between two shopping centre travelators on Saturday has been left with a horrifying discoloured face and eyeballs.
Stevie Webb from Mitcham was dragged backwards by the neck and shoulders during the freak accident in the Colliers Wood Sava Centre, with his head flipped back towards his ankles.
Within seconds his horrified mother hit the machine’s emergency stop button before dragging him free with the help of a friend.
But even though Stevie is expected to make a full recovery, the accident will leave him purple and blue for at least a month after the impact blocked circulation to the rest of his body, bursting blood vessels in his head.
His father Darren Webb, of Caithness Road, said: “The doctors said he’d been incredibly lucky because his neck and body were so contorted. It’s only because he’s so young and supple that his neck didn’t break.
“But it’s left him looking like an extra out of that new Avatar film. He doesn’t have any white left in his eyes and it could be months until the colour in his face goes back to normal.”
Mr Webb was in the centre’s car park waiting to pick up his family whe the accident happened. He immediately rushed unconscious Stevie to St George’s Hospital, Tooting, less than a mile away.
He says he is now planning on taking legal action against the centre after its manager refused to take responsibility for the accident, claiming the boy’s mother was not watching him at the time.
Mr Webb, who has spoken to manager Eric Sante and watched CCTV footage of the accident, added: “I’ll put my hands up and agree my child was playing while his mum’s back was turned - but four-year-olds do that sort of thing.
“There was no kind of protection or barrier to stop this from happening but the shopping centre manager still wants to make out that this is our fault. It’s unbelievable - my son nearly died.”
Mr Sante said: “Mr Webb came in on Monday screaming and demanding to see CCTV footage which we let him do.
"I sat him down and apologised but told him I was in no position to accept responsibility for what happened.”
He added the CCTV footage showed Stevie playing next to the travelator while his mother was on the phone.
The incident has already been referred to the shopping centre’s legal team.
Merton’s health and safety executive is investigating and has asked any witnesses to contact them on 020 8545 3024.