A man who cut his leg when he fell into a lake died after developing a rare flesh-eating bacterial infection.
Ben Smith-Crallan, 37, developed Necrotising Fasciitis (NF) – sometimes referred to as the ‘flesh-eating disease’ – after he fell into a lake and cut his leg at Botanic Gardens in the Churchtown area of Southport, Merseyside.
He went to his GP a few days later when he noticed a blister on his leg, which he initially mistook for gout, but the infection quickly worsened and doctors placed Mr Smith-Crallan into a coma.
The 37-year-old, from Southport, had to have his leg amputated before he died from the infection in June 2018.
His father, Peter Smith-Crallan, has now launched an appeal for railings to be built around the lake and water aeration fountains to be installed in the water in an effort to save others.
Ben Smith-Crallan (centre with father Peter and sister Nina), 37, developed Necrotising Fasciitis (NF) after he fell into a lake and cut his leg at Botanic Gardens in the Churchtown area of Southport, Merseyside
The infection first caused a blister to appear on Mr Smith-Crallan’s leg and as his condition worsened doctors placed the 37-year-old into a coma
Mr Smith-Crallan 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.’
Mr Smith-Crallan said that his son 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.’
The 37-year-old’s father 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 Mr Smith-Crallan’s best friend, David Rawsthorne, and has already gained over 4,000 supporters through Facebook.
It has attracted nine celebrity supporters 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.
Mr Smith-Crallan 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.
The 37-year-old’s family and best friend, David Rawsthorne (pictured on a bench dedicated to Mr Smith-Crallan) are urging as many people as possible to support the Make A Change For Ben campaign
Mr Rawsthorne (pictured left with Ben) said he would like to see a risk assessment for the lake at the Botanic Gardens
The Make A Change For Ben campaign is determined to ensure that the lake is made safe for all those who visit the park
‘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.’
David Codham, Botanic Gardens Community Association chairman, said: ‘We have received some great support from local people and local companies to ensure the continued maintenance of the park over the last 10 years, for the provision of flowers, to enable us to keep the public toilets open, to carry out the refurbishment of the aviary.
‘They have got involved, which has really helped.
‘Now we really need support to clear the lake, repair the bridges and to install water aeration features and make it a safer and more pleasant environment for everyone.’
Plans are now being put in place for work 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.
A bench dedicated to Mr Smith-Crallan and his mother Trena Smith-Crallan at Botanic Gardens in Churchtown, Southport
Funding for the phased lakeside improvements is set to come from community fundraising schemes, local ward budgets and the Green Sefton Service.
Cllr Ian Moncur, Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing said: ‘Our Green Sefton team has been working alongside a number of dedicated community groups who care deeply about the future of the park and are keen to see improvements that benefit everyone who loves spending time there.
‘We’re at the stage where we have been able to agree some initial improvements focused on the lakeside area that will complement the work already undertaken, at the beginning of the year, to improve the aviary.
‘But our longer-term vision is to reinvigorate the park with a whole host of potential ideas that would offer better facilities for our communities as well as providing a positive boost to the local visitor economy, including the creation of new jobs.’
MailOnline has contacted the Health and Safety Executive for comment.
To donate to the Make A Change For Ben campaign visit here.