Somerset woman falls 20ft off building site scaffolding

A young woman who nearly died after falling 20ft from a building has made a miraculous recovery to walk again. Niamh Danch, 18, was working on the scaffolding of a building site when she fainted and fell three stories.

She wasn't wearing a hard hat and fell on her head and was airlifted by air ambulance to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth. Niamh, then 17, fractured her skull, broke her eye socket and had several bleeds on her brain. She was put into an induced coma for 21 days.

She walking within a couple of weeks after leaving hospital despite being told she was facing a six month rehabilitation. To "give back" to the people that saved her life, Niamh has raised nearly £2k for air ambulance crews by doing a sponsored skydive.

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Niamh, who works in a car shop, from Taunton, Somerset, said: "I wanted to give something back. If they took any longer I would have been dead. We were at the top floor. I can’t remember why I passed out or if I tripped. I think I was out of it when I got down. I can’t remember anything."

Niamh was working for her uncle's construction company repointing bricks - refilling the area around brickwork with new cement - when she had the accident on May 4, 2023. She said: "The next thing I know I was awake in hospital on May 21."

Doctors told Niamh's mum, Alice Leat, 35, that her daughter had fractured her skull, broken her eye socket and head in two places causing internal bleeding.

Paramedics and air ambulance staff attend to Niamh after she fell three stories from a scaffold
Paramedics and air ambulance staff attend to Niamh after she fell three stories from a scaffold -Credit:Courtesy Alice Leat SWNS

Alice, who used to work in construction before Niamh's accident and now looks after Niamh, said: “We were told she wasn’t going to make it past 24 hours.

"On our first night in the hospital, Niamh's doctor said she was the sickest person in the entire hospital. I didn't think she was going to make it."

Alice put Niamh's fall down to her fainting at the top of a ladder she was using to climb down scaffolding. Niamh said: "If I moved, the pressure on my brain would go up. They had to keep me still. I also lacerated my liver, it was sort of split in half."

She had speech therapy, psycho therapy and had help from a nutritionist after dropping down to six stone because her muscles were wasting away while she was in a coma.

Niamh amazingly left hospital on May 31 - less than a month after her accident. Alice described the doctors at the ICU unit where Niamh was staying as "heroes".

She said: "The nurses deserve medals. They were incredible."

Niamh also wanted to thank her uncle and step-uncle (Sam Bastin, 40, and Declan Ellis, 26) who held her still after her fall, preventing even more extensive brain damage.

But Niamh is still feeling the effects of her accident. She said: "I can’t stand for that long. I get a tad dizzy occasionally. I’ve got brain damage and I’ll have that forever.

"It messes with my emotions - my psychiatrist said my brain was reacting like a 13-year-old. I’m quite mature, but my brain went back a few years. My anger and my emotions are very heightened. I struggle with my speech occasionally.