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Margate woman survives cycling off Joss Bay cliff and falling 100ft onto rocks

A woman who miraculously survived after accidentally cycling off a 100ft cliff has told how lucky she is to be alive.

The 28-year-old, who has asked not be named, suffered devastating injuries after plummeting onto the rocks below near Joss Bay beach in Broadstairs.

A 28-year-old miraculously survived accidentally falling over a cliff in Joss Bay, while riding a bike
A 28-year-old miraculously survived accidentally falling over a cliff in Joss Bay, while riding a bike

She remembers nothing of the traumatic accident but bears the physical scars of crashing into the ground from such a staggering height.

The first thing she recalls is waking up in hospital a fortnight later - shocked to find her body broken and her head having been shaved for emergency surgery on her skull.

"All I could see were casts on my hands and bandages on my head," she said.

"I remember being like 'what the hell?'"

The woman's last memories had been of cycling along the cliff top path that runs between Ramsgate and Margate on a hot summer's day on August 18. She was wearing just shorts and t-shirt but no helmet.

She had been cycling on a cliff top footpath near Joss Bay. Picture: Marijke Hall
She had been cycling on a cliff top footpath near Joss Bay. Picture: Marijke Hall

As she reached the North Foreland Hill area near Joss Bay, she plunged suddenly over the edge.

A couple walking nearby heard her screams as she fell and quickly sounded the alarm.

Several emergency crews rushed to the scene.

The woman was airlifted to King's College Hospital in London, where she was rushed into intensive care and placed in an induced coma.

As photos of the emergency response emerged, and news broke that a cyclist had plummeted over the steep precipice, many feared the worst.

Emergency services at the scene. Picture: Alexandra Dervan/ Twitter @thealexed
Emergency services at the scene. Picture: Alexandra Dervan/ Twitter @thealexed

But incredibly, the woman survived.

She suffered a catalogue of traumatic injuries - mostly to her head and upper body, which had hit the ground first.

She broke her skull and smashed her right eye socket, dislocating and breaking her jaw.

She also broke both her wrists, along with two ribs, several bones attached to her spinal cord, an elbow and some fingers.

Her legs were remarkably unharmed, save for a "horrendous" thigh laceration which went down to the bone.

"It could have been a lot worse, that's for sure," she said.

She spent five weeks in hospital, undergoing seven operations - including one to fit metal plates in her face and head, which needed 63 staples.

"They do have to go back into my head which is slightly scary," she said.

"My jaw still won't open very wide to this day. I can pretty much only eat soup.

"So they're going to fix that, along with a dent on the right side of my face."

Sadly, the woman's left elbow is unlikely to recover from the impact it suffered in the fall.

The woman is unable to move one of her elbows
The woman is unable to move one of her elbows

Despite two major operations, her arm remains in a fixed, slightly bent position.

"When they first took the stitches out I was like 'cool scar' because I thought I was just going to do the physio and get better," she said.

"I didn't really understand at that point how bad it was going to be. I don't have any movement in it.

"It's obviously going to affect me. It affects me every day.

"I have some movement in my hand, but because of the function of the elbow I'm basically one-handed. You can't really prepare food, for example.

"No one's given me any hope that will change. I'd love to hear that news."

The woman, who had recently relocated to Margate from London, has been unable to get another job, as she still requires regular physiotherapy and further surgery.

And when she does return to work, it is likely she will have to change profession.

"I loved working with young children but right now I definitely wouldn't be able to do the job that I did," she said.

The woman miraculously survived a 100ft fall. Picture: Marijke Hall
The woman miraculously survived a 100ft fall. Picture: Marijke Hall

"I might have to just do something completely different."

Despite this, her overriding feeling is that she is lucky to be alive.

"That thought still runs through my head every single day," she said.

"Sometimes I say it out loud to myself: 'you are incredibly lucky'.

"Minus the elbow, most things will get fully better.

"Even if I have moments where I think 'I want to be doing this, or I can't do this', I'm very good at forcing myself to just think how lucky I am."

"The only thing I’ll do differently is wear a helmet, as I was so stupid to not have done that day."

The woman thanks all those who came to her aid on the day of her accident.

"It’s down to their rapid response and care that I’m as well as I am," she said.

"I can never repay them for what they’ve done. I’m incredibly lucky and grateful."

She adds that the terrifying ordeal has not deterred her from getting back on her bike once she is able to.

"It hasn’t put me off," she said. "It’s a hobby I’ve always loved, and I will do it again when fit enough.

"The only thing I’ll do differently is wear a helmet, as I was so stupid to not have done that day."

The woman is calling for railings to be installed along the footpath, where it passes close to the cliff's edge. Picture: Marijke Hall
The woman is calling for railings to be installed along the footpath, where it passes close to the cliff's edge. Picture: Marijke Hall

Call for railings

The woman is now calling for railings to be installed along that stretch of footpath, to prevent another tragedy.

While the exact circumstances of her fall may never be known, she believes it happened at a point where the path runs close to the cliff's edge.

"There's one point where it is very narrow, where you are probably a metre or a metre-and-a-half from the edge," she said.

"There is a sign that says 'unfenced cliff edge' but I feel like there definitely should be railings.

"People walk along there the whole time - with children, with dogs."

The woman admits she should have instead been cycling along the main road, which runs slightly inland from the footpath.

"That wasn't the precise location where I should have been cycling," she said.

"But a lot of cyclists do go along that footpath, because otherwise you've got to go up a rather big hill to get to the road.

"If it might stop someone else from going through what I've gone through, or worse, then they should 100% install railings."

A Thanet District Council spokesman responded: "The path between Joss Bay Car Park and Cliff Promenade is a narrow, mud track and cyclists would need to dismount to gain access.

"This is an open area, with signage clearly warning of a sheer drop and no barriers are in place.

"Across Thanet’s coastline, in areas of high footfall and where there are clear and obvious hazards, barriers and railings are in situ for the safety of the public.

"We always urge residents and visitors to stick to the 32-mile Viking Coastal Trail which is part of the National Cycle Network, offering designated cycling routes."

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