IN­CRED­I­BLE STORY OF SURVIVAL

Western Daily Press (Saturday) - - Front Page - JOE SMITH news@west­erndai­ly­press.co.uk

AWOMAN has de­scribed her or­deal af­ter she fell into a quarry and crawled out with bro­ken ribs, a shat­tered pelvis, punc­tured lung and rup­tured spleen.

Sally Now­ell, 36, plunged 60 feet af­ter trip­ping up on her pet dog.

Her shat­tered pelvis meant she could not stand, so she be­gan drag­ging her­self along on her el­bows.

She spent hours crawl­ing to safety as she heard res­cue he­li­copters over­heard try­ing to find her.

She even­tu­ally man­aged to clam­ber back out of the quarry in the dark and was found by a res­cue dog.

Sta­ble jockey Sally, of Mid­somer Nor­ton, Som­er­set, is still re­ceiv­ing hospi­tal treat­ment fol­low­ing the or­deal on Au­gust 13.

She said: “There are quite a few quar­ries near where I live. I was walk­ing the dogs – I like to go run­ning and take the dogs with me.

“I’ve been up there with my hus­band lots of times. But this time I de­cided to take a path I hadn’t ever been down be­fore.”

The path led Sally to the edge of a 60ft cliff.

“I wanted to see, so I wan­dered off the path and peered over the edge – it was a big drop with a lot of rocks and un­der­growth,” she said.

“I got a bit scared and I turned back around to make sure the dogs hadn’t got too close the edge. But I was a bit dis­ori­ented, I took a step back and tripped over a dog. I re­mem­ber fall­ing through the air. Ev­ery­thing slows down. I re­mem­ber think­ing to my­self, ‘This is go­ing to hurt’.”

Sally was knocked un­con­scious as she landed at the bot­tom of the cliff.

“I re­mem­ber it was get­ting dark when I woke up,” she said. “It was about 8pm when I fell – this was back in Au­gust – so it must have been 9pm or 9.30pm when I came to.

“I didn’t know where I was – I was se­verely con­cussed. It took me a while to fig­ure out but it started com­ing back to me.”

Sally said the pain was not too in­tense at first, but she knew her arm was bro­ken be­cause it was at a “funny an­gle”.

“I tried to walk, but the pain in my pelvis wouldn’t let me use my legs,” she said.

Sally’s hus­band, Sean, 38, was not due home from his job as a self­em­ployed me­chan­i­cal engi­neer un­til much later.

Mean­while, she lay help­less and alone at the bot­tom of the quarry with her dogs look­ing down from the top of the cliff.

“I re­alised I had to save my­self,” said Sally.

So she be­gan drag­ging her­self across the quarry floor to­wards a way out.

“I was crawl­ing along on my el­bows,” she said. “It was fur­ther than I thought. I kept hav­ing to rest. I couldn’t get very far with the pain and the con­cus­sion. I man­aged to get about half­way, but I had to stop.”

She con­tin­ued to drift in and out of con­scious­ness for the next few hours and would try to crawl be­fore stop­ping to rest.

“It must have been 2am or 3am when I heard a he­li­copter fly­ing over­head,” she added. “I thought, ‘Oh, that couldn’t be for me’. But when it came back and started cir­cling I re­alised it was for me.”

The po­lice he­li­copter had been dis­patched to find Sally, us­ing a search­light to look for her among the rocks and trees in the quarry.

“At one point it flew straight over with its search­light but it didn’t see me,” she said.

“That’s when I started to panic. When they flew away again, I think I started to give up hope.

“As the morn­ing came, I started to panic – I thought maybe no­body would find me,” Sally said. “But then one of the dogs barked – I thought they might have heard some­one, so I called out – and one of the search and res­cuers called back, ‘We’ve got you. We’re com­ing.”

Sally was over­come with relief and ex­haus­tion when her res­cuers ar­rived. She was given painkillers and air­lifted to South­mead Hospi­tal in Bris­tol.

Her heart stopped on the op­er­at­ing ta­ble while sur­geons were try­ing to save her.

“They had to re­sus­ci­tate me and they had to put a chest drain in. They said I was very lucky I didn’t bleed to death from the in­jury to my spleen,” said Sally.

De­spite the hor­rific in­juries, she healed quickly. She was out of in­ten­sive care in a week.

But while the phys­i­cal in­juries healed, the long pe­ri­ods of in­ac­tion had an­other ef­fect on her health.

She has suf­fered from anorexia her whole life and she said the pro­longed pe­ri­ods of im­mo­bil­ity were “tor­ture”. Fear­ing she would put on weight while un­able to walk, she stopped eat­ing.

“Af­ter two weeks at home I’d lost

loads of weight. My care worker asked if I wanted to go to hospi­tal,” she said.

Sally said things had been go­ing well be­fore her fall – she had been manag­ing to get her weight up and had made healthy changes to her life­style – but the fall was a set­back.

She is get­ting hospi­tal treat­ment for her anorexia and is in pain from her pelvis and back. But she is nev­er­the­less rid­ing horses again.

Sally thanked those who had res­cued her from the worst night of her life: “If it wasn’t for search and res­cue I wouldn’t have sur­vived.”

A spokesper­son from the Avon and Som­er­set Search and Res­cue said that with­out her dogs stay­ing with her “the out­come may not have been as good” for Sally.

“We are all so pleased that Sally is mak­ing a good re­cov­ery and pass on our very best wishes,” they said.

Sally Now­ell re­u­nitedwith her dog

Sally re­cov­er­ing in hospi­tal

The quarry where the in­ci­dent oc­curred (ar­rows show where Sally fell and landed)

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