A woman who narrowly avoided death after accidentally cycling off a 100ft seaside cliff has told how lucky she is to be alive.
The 28-year-old, who has asked not to be named, woke up in hospital two weeks later with no memory of plumetting onto the rocks below.
She suffered numerous injuries incluing breaking her skull, smashing her right eye socket and 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, saved for a thigh laceration which went down to the bone.
The woman’s last memory was cycling along the clip top walking 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 does not remember plunging suddenly over the edge of Joss Bay in Broadstairs, Kent.
After falling, a couple walking nearby heard her screams and quickly sounded the alarm, with emergency services coming to her aid.
The woman was airlifted to King’s College Hospital in London, where she was rushed into intensive care and placed in an induced coma.
She then woke up a fortnight later, shocked to find her body broken and her head shaved for emergency surgery on her skull.
She said: “All I could see were casts on my hands and bandages on my head.
“I remember being like ‘what the hell?'”
She spent five weeks in hospital, undergoing seven operations – including one to fit metal plates in her face and head, which needed 63 staples.
She said: “They do have to go back into my head which is slightly scary.
“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.
Despite two major operations, her arm remains in a fixed, slightly bent position.
She said: “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.
“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, previously worked with young children and may have to change professions.
She said: “That thought still runs through my head every single day.
“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.”
She said she feels like she “can never repay” the services that came to her aid on that day.
The avid cyclist is determined to get back on her bike as soon as she can.
She said: “It hasn’t put me off. 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.”
Unbelievably her bike, while currently in possession of the police, also mostly survived the fall with only the front wheel needing to be replaced.
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.
She said: “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.
She said: “That wasn’t the precise location where I should have been cycling.
“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 said: “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.”