Page last updated at 12:57 GMT, Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Pc's eye impaled in arrest chase

Pc Nash
Pc Nash now just wants to return to work after the accident

A police officer kept chasing a suspect for his first arrest - despite getting a six-inch branch stuck in his eye.

Pc John Nash slipped on mud and slid head first into a bush while pursuing the man in Rochdale, Greater Manchester, just six days into the job.

He only realised he was injured when he arrested the suspect, who told him he had "better get to hospital".

Pc Nash, 25, underwent three hours of surgery, which saved his eye, and says he now just wants to return to work.

The officer was in an unmarked police vehicle following a car being driven erratically on an estate when it was abandoned in Walton Close.

Two men ran off and Pc Nash gave chase, in conditions described as "driving rain", and cornered one in a dead end.

X-ray of Pc Nash's head
The stick came to rest underneath Pc Nash's brain

Insp Ian Hanson, of the Police Federation, said: "John fell in some mud and initially thought he banged his head on his baton, which he had drawn.

"When he detained the man he thought was the offender shortly afterwards, it was actually the man who said: 'you'd better get to hospital mate'."

Mr Hanson, of Greater Manchester Police (GMP), said the stick penetrated Pc Nash's eye, shattered his eye socket and stopped just underneath his brain.

"He was incredibly lucky not to lose his eye, or indeed his life," he added.

Pc Nash was taken to Royal Blackburn Hospital, where he underwent three hours of surgery. Doctors had expected him to lose his sight, Mr Hanson said.

It must have been quite frightening for them to see their colleague come back with this thing sticking out of his eye
Insp Ian Hanson, of the Police Federation

"Ultimately, it's through the skill of the surgeons that he is in the lucky position that he has kept his eye and not suffered any brain damage," he added.

"It shows the dangers that police officers face every day, but we in GMP are very proud of John. He is very much the reluctant hero and all he wants to do is get back to work.

"John is more bothered about the impact it had on his colleagues at the scene. It must have been quite frightening for them to see their colleague come back with this thing sticking out of his eye."

PC Nash has got his peripheral vision back and a "significant" amount of his sight has returned.

The suspect was arrested but later released without charge.

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