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There was a time when Britons could leave the security of their homes and venture forth safe in the knowledge that in the unlikely event of falling down a manhole, their fellow citizens would at least have the courtesy to stop and enquire: "Hello, are you from the Water Board or are you down that manhole involuntarily?"

Not any more, as 65-year-old Clive Collins can attest. The poor bloke fell down a 5ft-deep manhole in a car park in Boscombe, Dorset, and was trapped for 45 minutes "while shoppers ignored his cries for help", the BBC explains.

Collins recalled: "Probably about 15, 20 people walked by. The more I called out, the less they seemed to notice me."

He continued: "What surprised me is that they didn't make eye contact. A woman actually parked along side my camper and put the hood up on her car.

"I said 'can you please call me an ambulance' and she refused to acknowledge the fact that I was there. One chap looked straight at me in his car driving very slowly by and I waved. He waved back and then carried on."

Collins was, despite having two broken ribs, able to fish his mobile out of his pocket and call 999. He was subsequently treated at Royal Bournemouth Hospital for said rib damage, plus a chipped tooth, a strained groin and other injuries requiring 47 stitches.

Bournemouth Borough Council spokeswoman Carly Earnshaw assured: "A full investigation is being carried out as to how this happened and if any vandalism on the manhole has taken place. In the meantime we would like to reassure residents that the site is now secure and that we do have policies in place to maintain our car parks."

Sadly, a quick poll of members of the Vulture Central staff reveals that this disregard for the wellbeing of others is not confined to Dorset. One hack confessed he'd probably use the opportunity to steal the poor chap's car, while another said he'd have his phone away - "but only if it was 3G". Otherwise, he added, "I'd steal his wallet and use his credit card to buy a 3G phone". ®

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