A GRATEFUL mother says it’s a miracle her son is alive after falling 60ft down a cliff in South Tyneside.
Mel Ansell has told of her gratitude to the rescuers who saved the life of her son, Andre, after a walk along the cliffs at Marsden, South Shields, last week almost turned to tragedy.
Andre, 15, is being treated for a badly broken leg and a gashed head at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, where he was taken by helicopter.
He may have to spend the whole of the summer holidays receiving treatment.
His ordeal began last Wednesday evening when Mrs Ansell, 38, and Andre decided to go for a walk with their dog, Domino, along the cliffs near their new home in Widdrington Avenue, Marsden, South Shields.
The family only moved in three weeks ago from Gateshead.
The couple decided to explore the cliff’s edge around Frenchman’s Bay and Mrs Ansell sat down to take a rest while her son went to explore the area.
He slipped and fell onto the rocks below.
The mum-of-four said: “I didn’t see him go over, just one minute he was there and the next he wasn’t. I had no idea the cliffs were that high.
“At first, I thought he had just went on to a ledge below. I didn’t have any idea he’d fallen so far. I couldn’t see him from the top.
“But then he started shouting ‘Mum, mum, I think I’m quite badly injured. I can see a bone sticking through my leg’.
“Then I realised it was bad.”
A fisherman, who Mel only knows as John, saw her son slip and the pair of them flagged down a passing cyclist and asked him to call the emergency services as neither had a mobile phone.
Mrs Ansell said: “John was quite worried because the tide was coming in and we were shouting to tell Andre to try to pull himself up away from the water.
“Obviously, we had no idea how serious his injury was.”
Volunteers from Tynemouth RNLI sped to the scene and an RAF Sea King helicopter from RAF Boulmer was also scrambled and later flew Andre to hospital.
It was then discovered the teenager, who had dreams of serving in the army like his father, has smashed his left leg’s tibia and fibula. He had also split his head open.
Every other day since the fall Andre has received surgery on his leg as doctors try to pin it back together.
He will also need a skin graft where the bone split through his shin.
Mrs Ansell, who is originally from Germany, said: “Andre’s dad, who died 10 years ago, was in the British Army and it was Andre’s dream to follow in his footsteps as soon as he’d left school.
“However, he’s been told it’s going to take him at least a year to recover, the likelihood is that he won’t be able follow his dream.
“He’s now going to have to try to set his sights on a new career.”
It’s thought Andre will have now have to spend the rest of the summer holidays in hospital, and Mrs Ansell admits that the family probably didn’t appreciate the dangers of the cliffs, having just moved to the area.
She said: “We only moved here three weeks ago. I don’t think we really appreciated how steep and dangerous they are, it’s been just one of those things.”
Mel added: “It’s awful that this has happened to Andre, but it could have been so much worse.
“We all think it’s a miracle he’s alive and I can’t thank the rescue teams and the medics enough for what they have done.
“They were great and we are very grateful for what they did for Andre.”