Woman from Taunton survives falling 20ft off a building – and can now walk again

Niamh Danch has recovered after falling on a building site to walk – and even complete a skydive. <i>(Image: SWNS)</i>
Niamh Danch has recovered after falling on a building site to walk – and even complete a skydive. (Image: SWNS)

A YOUNG woman who nearly died after falling 20ft from a building has made a miraculous recovery to walk again.

Niamh Danch, 18, who is from Taunton, 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, then was airlifted by air ambulance to Plymouth Hospital.

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 £2,000 for air ambulance crews by doing a sponsored skydive.

Niamh, who works in a car shop, 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."

Somerset County Gazette: Niamh raised nearly £2,000 with her sponsored skydive.
Somerset County Gazette: Niamh raised nearly £2,000 with her sponsored skydive.

Niamh raised nearly £2,000 with her sponsored skydive. (Image: SWNS)

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.

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."

Somerset County Gazette: Niamh before taking on the skydive.
Somerset County Gazette: Niamh before taking on the skydive.

Niamh before taking on the skydive. (Image: SWNS)

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.

"Sometimes I’ll be thinking something, but it comes out like gobbledygook. I’ve also got nerve damage from waist below. I do struggle to walk sometimes.

"I refuse to walk with a stick - I’m too young.  It can heal, but it happened at such a young age, it will take its time."

Somerset County Gazette: Niamh was able to walk within a few weeks of leaving hospital.
Somerset County Gazette: Niamh was able to walk within a few weeks of leaving hospital.

Niamh was able to walk within a few weeks of leaving hospital. (Image: SWNS)

To commemorate the one-year anniversary of her accident, Niamh is raising money for the people that she says saved her life - the air ambulance service.

She's managed to raise a whopping £1,800 for the Midlands branch by taking part in a skydive on May 4, 2024.

Niamh chose to raise money for the Midlands service, as opposed to the Great Western branch, because they get the least donations, she said.

Niamh said: "They all deserve so much appreciation."