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 Friday, 24 January, 2003, 13:38 GMT
Radio station fined over dry ice stunt
Helen Terry
Helen Terry spent almost three months in hospital
A Birmingham radio station has been fined 15,000 after four people were left with severe frostbite after a competition stunt went wrong.

BRMB challenged contestants to sit on blocks of dry ice - carbon dioxide frozen at temperatures of -78C - to win tickets and back stage passes for a music festival in the city.

The incident resulted in four people being treated in hospital for severe frostbite, with three of them requiring prolonged stays.

Two women and a man spent about 10 weeks in hospital recovering from extensive skin grafts, which they had to undergo following the Coolest Seats in Town event outside the station's headquarters in Broad Street in August 2001.

The idea was quite a stupid one and as a result, three members of the public were left severely disfigured

Georgina Speake, Health and Safety Executive
They suffered loss of skin, fat and muscle and were left with permanent scarring.

Helen Terry, 25, who took part in the contest and spent nearly three months in hospital, said: "It was just horrendous. You just don't think anything like that is going to happen.

"I was told it was the worst burns that the nurses at the unit had ever seen. The surgeon said that if the if had been on my hands or feet, they would have been amputated - that's how serious it was.

"I was left with the physical scars, on the burn site itself, and the skin graft scars and the emotional side to get over with.

"With a husband and two kids - my husband was a single parent for three months and the kids were asking: 'Where's mummy, where's mummy?'. It's just unbelievable.

"The last 18 months have been a nightmare and I just want to get on with my life now."

'Deep regret'

Another victim, 19-year-old Lyndsey Dugmore, said she was pleased with the outcome and was feeling "emotional".

BRMB admitted breaching health and safety laws during a hearing at Birmingham Magistrates' Court on Friday.

The station is owned by London-based conglomerate Capital Radio Group.

Paul Davies, operations director for the group, said the company "deeply regretted" the consequences of the competition.

"It was never our intention to place anyone in jeopardy and we sincerely apologise to the participants and their families for their injuries and distress.

'Acknowledge mistakes'

"As responsible broadcasters we take the health and welfare of our listeners extremely seriously. We acknowledge that in this particular incident mistakes were made.

"We have put all the necessary steps in place to ensure a situation like this cannot happen again."

Georgina Speak from the Health and Safety Executive, who brought the prosecution, said she was pleased with the outcome.

"This event should never have occurred.

Wedding stunt

"The idea was quite a stupid one and as a result, three members of the public were left severely disfigured."

The dry ice stunt was not the first time BRMB has attracted controversy with its competitions.

In a contest four years ago, the station created a 'blind date' wedding when two people who had never met each other got married.

The couple split up three months later.

  WATCH/LISTEN
  ON THIS STORY
  Paul Davies, Operations Director at Capital Radio
"It was never our intention to place anyone in jeopardy"
  Helen Terry, contestant
"They need to learn they cannot treat people llike this"

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See also:

14 Jan 03 | England
14 Apr 99 | UK
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