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Thursday 17 August 2017

I thought I'd be paralysed - boy (12) who plunged 50ft off cliff to rocky beach below

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Mateo Arteaga - survived cliff fall in Shankill
Mateo Arteaga - survived cliff fall in Shankill
Sofia Arteaga
Mateo Arteaga in the hospital after breaking his leg

a 12-year-old boy has spoken about how he feared he was going to be paralysed after he plummeted 50ft from cliffs in Shankill.

Mateo Arteaga is facing surgery on his smashed leg and back after he fell from cliffs onto the beach.

He broke both bones in his lower-left leg in the fall near Corbawn Lane on Wednesday afternoon.

Mateo said the accident happened so quickly that he barely remembers the incident.

"It only took about three seconds to fall and then I hit the bottom," he told the Herald.

"I was badly hurt. I actually thought I was going to be paralysed.

"I was really scared. My leg and my back were badly injured - I could not get up. I had to shout for help," he added.

The young boy had to be airlifted from the beach by the Irish Coastguard helicopter and flown to Tallaght Hospital for emergency treatment.

AIRLIFTED

He was later transferred to Crumlin Children's hospital where he's due to have a special frame fitted around his leg with steel rods going into his shattered bones to realign them.

His mother Sofia told of her shock at getting the call to say Mateo was injured, and how he could have been killed in the fall.

Speaking from her home in Shankill, she said it was a phone call from the woman who had found Mateo that alerted her to the accident.

"Mateo had been up on the cliffs, sitting at the edge looking out to sea, but when he stood up, he lost his footing and slipped," she told the Herald.

"He fell all the way down to the beach below, he was lucky he wasn't killed. His leg is badly broken. He will be in a frame for up to four months," Sofia explained.

"Mateo was conscious when he landed on the beach, and thought he would be able to get up, but when he tried he was in agony."

Sofia paid tribute to the Good Samaritan who assisted Mateo and called for help from the air ambulance.

"Mateo called out for help and a lady passing on the beach came to him. She called the emergency services and me," she added.

"I got there quickly but Mateo was in a lot of pain. The paramedics were giving him morphine and it was having no real effect because his pain was so strong," said Sofia.

Sofia said that the whole experience was terrifying as she didn't know how badly hurt her son was.

"It was frightening but I tried to stay calm for Mateo and keep my head strong. He had injured his head and face as well and was complaining of back pain, it was worrying," she said.

The Dublin mum urged people to take care while walking near the coast, and to insist their children know the dangers of being too close to the edge.

"Even as we were on the beach there were kids looking down from the cliffs above. It can be a dangerous place and kids should be aware of the dangers," Sofia explained.

"I know it is impossible to fence off a coastline, and kids will be kids, but they should know that when parents say not to do something or not to go somewhere they are not giving that advice to annoy them, they are doing it because they are more aware of danger," she added.

LUCKY

Mateo, and avid skateboarder and cyclist, is a pupil at Bray School Project, but will now be off his bike and board for the near future.

"When I think of how lucky he is that he just broke his leg it makes me think," she said.

"Yes he is injured, but he missed a pile of metal and waste and things that could have killed him by just a few feet, and he could have been knocked unconscious and not been able to call for help," said Sofia.

Mateo is facing into several procedures, but he has been cheered up by visitors.

"His cousin was visiting him in hospital and told Mateo he had 'punched death in the face'," Sofia added.

cfeehan@herald.ie

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