A FOUR-YEAR-OLD girl was playing outside her grandparents’ house when the ground gave way beneath her.

Amelia Rose had stepped on a loose manhole cover which then flipped up sending her crashing down into the hole below.

As she fell, the youngster clutched at the sides of the gap, clinging on to stop herself falling to the bottom.

Her mother, Joanne Jennings, said: “I looked over and she was hanging on to the edge of the hole.

“I screamed to her to hang on then ran over and pulled her out. When I looked down I saw the hole was about 5ft deep and that’s a long way for a small child.

“I am fuming with what has happened and can’t stop thinking about how much worse it could have been.

“I am watching her every move now because I am scared my kids or other people’s will fall down more of these.”

The Argus:

Joanne said her daughter was “lucky” to have escaped the incident with a series of scratches and grazes.

The 30-year-old said: “I pulled her out and laid her down but she was crying and screaming.

“I think she was more frightened than anything.

“I started to tear up thinking how bad that could have been, that’s all I keep thinking.

“If she had fallen down she would have really hurt herself – luckily she was clever enough to hang on.”

The family lives in Hurstpierpoint but were visiting Amelia’s grandparents in the Foxhill area of Peacehaven when the incident happened on Sunday.

Now Joanne wants to warn others of this hazard and also wants to see councils take action to prevent this from happening again.

She said: “Other parents need to know the dangers of this and so does the council. It could have been so much worse.”

Tony Allen, council clerk for Peacehaven Town Council, said: “As soon as we knew about it we dispatched our senior groundsman to make it safe.

“We were very worried about the condition of the girl and, though we are terribly sorry to hear she was hurt, we are glad to hear it was scratches and bruises.”

There was also an investigation into the responsibility of the manhole.

Mr Allen said: “East Sussex County Council has passed this back to Peacehaven Town Council as it seems that this may be a drain for surface water.

“It is possible the town council could have inherited this from the developers at the time the homes were built.

“In any case, to deal with the main issue, our grounds team have made a permanent repair to the manhole this afternoon.

“I have also found out that, when the matter was reported to us, it was not clear that it was the grandfather of Amelia who fell into the manhole – at the time we just assumed that it was a well-meaning member of the public.

“We have since spoken to him and expressed our sincere apologies and will discuss with him a way of giving Amelia a small gift if he is open to that.”