herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

I fell off the Moher Cliffs and lived to tell the tale

Peter Fitzpatrick Picture: Peter Varga
Peter Fitzpatrick Picture: Peter Varga

An Irishman who survived a fall off the Cliffs of Moher has told of his childhood nightmare and said it was a "miracle" he survived.

Peter Fitzpatrick (32) was 13 when he tumbled more than 15 metres while on a walk with his brother and a school friend, and was the focus of a dramatic rescue operation that saved his life in 1997.

The plasterer and contractor, who now lives in Dublin, made a full recovery and says he is the only person to have survived such a fall.

Slipped

"My brother and my friend cycled down to the cliffs one day after school and, although I don't remember, my brother says I slipped and just went over the edge and fell straight on to the rocks," he said.

Peter's friend managed to stop a bus on the nearby road in Doolin, Co Clare, and a six-hour rescue operation swung into action.

"There was a lot of fog that evening, and I was so close to the cliff that it was difficult for the helicopter to locate my exact spot," said Peter.

"I was unconscious through the whole thing, and my whole insides were erupting, my spleen had burst.

"The RNLI boat couldn't get close enough to the cliff either. About 50 people came out of the pub in Doolin and through sheer manpower they helped to winch me and four rescuers up the side on a stretcher. I was flown then by helicopter to hospital."

Peter suffered serious injuries. He broke many of the bones on the left side of his body and had internal bleeding.

"My mum finds it hard to talk about, but it came up the other day and she said that when I was finally brought up, my head was the size of a basketball and my eyes were blackened," he said.

Peter credited the Doolin Rescue Centre and the RNLI for saving his life.

"At the time when I fell, the centre was a 20 foot by 20 foot shed, but now it's the best rescue centre in Ireland," he said.

"I was so young when it happened, but it was really an eye-opener. It's only as I've got older that I realise just how lucky I was. I was well known in Doolin, that's for sure.

Brain

"I was extremely lucky to fall the way I did. It was a miracle I didn't have any brain injuries."

"I had to learn to walk again, but I've had a normal enough life apart from a few small problems. I'm 100pc now."

Peter was featured on the Humans of Dublin website.

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