GRATE­FUL FAM­ILY

‘A beau­ti­ful thing came out of this whole tragedy’

The Coffs Coast Advocate - - FRONT PAGE - Rachel Ver­coe rachel.ver­coe@coff­s­coas­tad­vo­cate.com.au

WITH a smile again on his face, Ely Ben­son is lucky to be alive af­ter fall­ing five me­tres from the Coffs Har­bour Jetty into shal­low wa­ter.

Ely was play­ing on the jetty a lit­tle more than a fort­night ago when he slipped and fell.

Act­ing on ma­ter­nal in­stinct his mother Leerah jumped into the wa­ter to res­cue her son.

Dragged in in­cred­i­ble pain from the wa­ter, Ely was rushed to hos­pi­tal and placed in an in­duced coma be­fore be­ing air­lifted to New­cas­tle’s John Hunter Hos­pi­tal.

Ely and his par­ents Matt and Leerah yes­ter­day paid NSW Am­bu­lance In­spec­tor An­drew Chap­man a visit to say thank you.

AF­TER a dis­tress­ing 48 hours, Ely Ben­son woke from an in­duced coma af­ter a se­ri­ous fall with one re­quest.

Suf­fer­ing mul­ti­ple frac­tures, a bro­ken shoul­der, torn spleen and col­lapsed lung, Ely awoke at John Hunter Hos­pi­tal with no con­cern for him­self – in­stead ask­ing if his older brother Myles was all right.

“That love that they have for each other is a pow­er­ful thing. The re­la­tion­ships be­tween broth­ers in a dif­fi­cult time is a beau­ti­ful thing to see,” Ely’s father Matt Ben­son said.

More than a fort­night ago, 11-year-old Ely fell 5m from the Coffs Har­bour Jetty close to shore, land­ing in just 15cm of wa­ter.

With­out hes­i­ta­tion and act­ing on a mother’s in­stinct, Leerah Ben­son jumped over the rail­ing to reach her boy, suf­fer­ing in­juries her­self, in­clud­ing a bro­ken nose.

For­tu­nately, a doc­tor was on the beach and ren­dered as­sis­tance be­fore paramedics quickly ar­rived on scene to as­sist Ely, who was rushed to Coffs Har­bour hos­pi­tal be­fore be­ing air­lifted to New­cas­tle.

Ely and his par­ents yes­ter­day re­united with NSW Am­bu­lance Coffs Har­bour In­spec­tor An­drew Chap­man, who was su­per­vis­ing on the day, to say thank you and let him know how Ely’s re­cov­ery was pro­gress­ing.

Leerah said ev­ery­one along the way was amaz­ing and they were so happy with the care pro­vided by hos­pi­tal staff, so­cial work­ers, am­bu­lance paramedics and all the love and sup­port from the com­mu­nity.

“Ely’s just get­ting his strength back and happy that he’s go­ing to con­tinue his great life,” she said.

“We don’t of­ten get to see how peo­ple are once they re­cover,” Insp Chap­man said.

“You wouldn’t be­lieve it was the same kid.”

On the day, Ely’s father Matt was at Sap­phire with older brother Myles when he re­ceived the phone call.

“Words can’t de­scribe the emo­tion of that call,” he said.

When they ar­rived at the scene, Myles was deeply dis­tressed to see his lit­tle brother un­con­scious on the beach, which is why his par­ents be­lieve Ely’s first thoughts were on his older brother.

Ely was stretchered off the beach and placed in an in­duced coma at Coffs Har­bour Base Hos­pi­tal be­fore he and Leerah were air­lifted to New­cas­tle’s John Hunter Hos­pi­tal.

“Af­ter Ely was flown to New­cas­tle, doc­tors were pre­par­ing us for the re­al­ity Ely may have suf­fered spinal dam­age and even nerve dam­age in his brain.”

Now back in Coffs Har­bour and fac­ing six to eight weeks of re­cov­ery and re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion, Ely and his fam­ily wanted to say thanks to the paramedics and pub­lic who were there on the day to help.

“It has been re­ally full on but with Ely back here in Coffs Har­bour we just wanted to say thank you to the many peo­ple who helped him,” Matt said.

“I’m sure the peo­ple who saw the in­ci­dent un­fold on the beach that day want news that he is on the mend and luck­ily has avoided se­ri­ous in­jury.”

Our lit­tle boy is busted but not bro­ken. — Matt Ben­son, father

QUICK THINK­ING: Leerah, Ely and Matt Ben­son thank NSW Am­bu­lance Coffs Har­bour In­spec­tor An­drew Chap­man af­ter Ely’s jetty fall.

PHOTO: TREVOR VEALE

PHOTO: TREVOR VEALE

BIG THANKS: NSW Am­bu­lance Coffs Har­bour In­spec­tor An­drew Chap­man with Ely, 11, his mother Leerah and father Matt Ben­son.

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