Woman hit by runaway lawn roller

Rugby team arrested after heavy-duty roller pushed down hill towards tents
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Police have arrested 21 rugby players after a woman was struck on the head by a runaway lawn roller while she was asleep in a tent.

Emma Winch, 26, was in a tent at Aberaeron, west Wales, where she had been intending to take part in a rugby sevens tournament, when the roller careered into her. Two women sharing the tent escaped unhurt. Ms Winch was airlifted to hospital after being hit, but was released yesterday morning after treatment and observation.

Police arrested 21 men, all from a rugby team in Merthyr Tydfil, after the heavy-duty, two-ton roller was pushed down an incline towards a camping area shortly after midnight on Saturday. Organisers of the tournament at Aberaeron Rugby Club later expelled the youth team from Merthyr.

The club secretary, Glyndwr Evans, said organisers were deeply disappointed at what had taken place and were relieved Ms Winch's injuries weren't more serious. "We are pleased to say that the girl has been here this morning and she is making steady progress and she's going to be OK," he said.

Ms Winch described yesterday how she heard a commotion moments before the roller struck her tent just as she was dropping off to sleep. "I heard it coming," she said. "There was like a lot of banging and then I heard people laughing and then I thought someone had fallen on me. My head had actually stopped the roller. I feel that I have had a lucky escape.

"It was just a stupid thing to do. I am more annoyed at the people responsible for them. There was a lot of drinking going on and young teenagers that age should have been better looked after."

Chief Inspector Robin Mason of Dyfed-Powys Police said: "At the time, those injuries were deemed to be very serious. There were a lot of people there, they appealed for witnesses to try to whittle down who was responsible for the act. Unfortunately, nobody was coming forward.

"The witnesses at the time were unable to provide us with the information which could identify specific individuals, they could only identify a group responsible. And without anybody in that group admitting responsibility, the officers had no option but to arrest them all and take them into custody."

The men who were arrested, all from the Merthyr area, were later released on bail pending further inquires.

Ms Winch had been expecting to play in the tournament for the Pontyclun Falcons women's rugby team on Saturday and had gone to bed early to be ready for the day's play. She recently switched from hockey to play rugby at her club, which is based near Bridgend.