A groom who plummeted through a bannister on his wedding night didn’t remember he was married when he woke up from a coma.
Chris Mallon, 49, had been helping a hotel porter carry wedding gifts to the honeymoon suite of Macdonald Houstoun House in Uphall, West Lothian when he tripped and fell.
He suffered skull fractures, a broken back, a fractured and dislocated shoulder, a broken hand and bruising on his heart and lungs after the horrific fall on June 14.
His new wife Avril, 43, watched the horror unfold as she was just yards behind Chris when he slipped and plunged 12ft down the staircase, suffering a brain injury.
Now two months on, Chris and Avril have spoken of how their ‘magical’ wedding day turned into a nightmare and Chris’ remarkable recovery.
Graphic designer Avril said: “I had the most amazing day, just magical.
“I’d met my soulmate and was so happy and thought it was being taken away from me.”
Worried Avril kept a vigil by her husband’s bedside until he woke up.
She said: “I could see him come round but really, really confused – he didn’t even know we were married.
“I was singing our first dance and he started singing it with me – that was a lovely moment.”
Chris had landed on his back with such force, medics compared his horrific injuries to those of a car crash victim.
Mum-of-four Avril held her new husband in her arms as blood poured from his head and he went in and out of consciousness.
Avril said: “I ran to him and there was a lot of blood – he was delirious, moaning and bleeding.
“I was right beside him and held him in my arms saying, ‘Stay with me,’ because he kept going in and out of consciousness.
“It was like an out-of-body experience. I thought, ‘This can’t be happening, this is my wedding’.
“He was bleeding from the head. I held his head in my hands.
“Unbelievably I didn’t get any on my dress but my hands were covered.
“He was devastated because they had to cut the wedding suit off him.
“They said I couldn’t go up to the honeymoon suite to get changed because it was a crime scene, so I sat in A&E in my wedding dress – it was surreal.”
Chris spent ten days in intensive care and a further two weeks in the high dependency unit after being transferred from the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh to a specialist unit at the Western General Hospital, Edinburgh.
He was put on a ventilator and caught pneumonia as his broken back interrupted treatment for his lung injury.
During an operation on his back to have four pins inserted, Chris suffered a bleed on the right-hand side of his brain.
He was initially told by medics it would take 18 months to recover but after just four weeks was back home with his family.
Speaking of his wedding day Chris said: “I was sober at the time.
“I only had a couple of drinks through the whole day.
“There’s a railing with one bar underneath with about a half-metre gap below.
“My foot caught the top of the step and fell forward. I stumbled again, fell forward and could just see this gap I was going towards.
“I just went head-first through the gap. There was no way I could stop myself.
“The next thing I remember was waking up in hospital ten days later.”
It was a month before Chris was able to make it home to East Calder, West Lothian, where he lives with their son Alex, aged two, his son from a previous marriage, Sean, 13, and Avril’s children from a previous relationship, Ryan, ten, Emily-Grace, 13 and Reece, 16.
Determined Chris stunned medics when he forced himself to start walking again and said he feels lucky after suffering a multitude of serious injuries.
He said: “I don’t know if it was the nature of the injuries or my nature but I forced myself up quite quickly to try to walk.
“I was able to move. The physio very gingerly stood me up and the next two days I started taking a couple of steps.”
Chris is still unable to return to work as an administrator at Livingston firm Energy Assets and his back injury meant having to give up badminton and the gym.
But worst of all is not being able to play with son Alex.
Chris, who is unable to fully bend his back, said: “It’s the hardest part, it’s been awful.
“I can’t lift him and can’t give him a cuddle.
“It’s difficult for me to play with him as well because I can’t go down on all fours, it’s really quite painful.”
He has also lost the hearing in his left ear and his sense of taste and smell.
But Avril said she is amazed by her brave husband’s recovery.
She said: “From where he was and where we are now, it’s a miracle, and I do believe in the power of prayer.
“He’s got a way to go but he’s here and that’s amazing.”
The couple, who got engaged last year after meeting in 2014, had to cancel their dream honeymoon to Dubai.
It was revealed this week that hotel bosses at Macdonald Houstoun House face possible criminal proceedings.
Avril said: “It was an accident waiting to happen.”