Miracle escape for cliff fall man
Published: April 2, 2008 | 6986th good news item since 2003
A man had a miracle escape when he fell from the top of 530ft-high cliffs at Beachy Head and had his fall broken by a narrow ledge.
The 46-year-old was walking along downland in the Gun Gardens area of Beachy Head, near Eastbourne, when he slipped down a grass slope.
His fall was cushioned by a ledge jutting out 80ft down the cliff-face, and he managed to survive the plunge with lacerations and possible spinal injuries.
The Beachy Head Chaplaincy Team, which responds to emergencies at the notorious suicide spot, alerted the Eastbourne coastguard rescue team.
A coastguard team member was lowered over the precarious cliff-top in high winds to stabilise the man, who has not been named, and provide him with initial aid.
In the meantime, a coastguard helicopter was scrambled from Lee-on-Solent, Hampshire, which helped winch a stretcher to the casualty.
The man, who was conscious throughout the incident from 4.20pm yesterday, was then airlifted to the Eastbourne District General Hospital.
Stuart McNab, the station officer for Eastbourne coastguard, said: “When we arrived, we identified that the casualty was still moving.
“He suffered lacerations and he was complaining of some pain to his right side, so we applied a collar to him in case he had spinal injuries.
“Exactly how he came to go over the cliffs is unclear but we know that it was an extremely windy day, so that may have been a factor in what happened.
“We would take this opportunity to ask people who walk along the cliff-top to be very mindful of the wind because a gust can put people over the edge.”
Beachy Head is the highest chalk sea cliff in Britain, but its height has made it a magnet for depressed people intent on committing suicide.
Signs from the Samaritans are posted nearby in an attempt to persuade people to seek help, and the chaplaincy team conduct regular day and evening patrols.