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Cavehill Belfast: Rescuers say German student 'lucky to be alive' as they recall dramatic moment they found her after Napoleon's Nose fall

By Claire Williamson

Published 24/11/2016

Two joggers have told of the dramatic moment they found a German student who lay outdoors in the freezing cold overnight after falling to the bottom of a cliff - and how she is lucky to be alive.

The student was airlifted to hospital after falling at Cavehill Country Park in north Belfast.

The 20-year-old woman, who is a student at Queen's University in Belfast, was found by two passersby who were out on Wednesday.

She told her rescuers that she had been there since about 3pm on Tuesday.

The alarm was raised after Richard Lamont and David McCrum found a handbag in the area.

Richard took the bag home and investigated to find out who it belonged to.

After locating a QUB student card he contacted the university who quickly got back with their concerns about her as she hadn't turned up for class.

David then went back up Cavehill to the area they found the bag and also located a coat and hat.

He told the BBC: "She was in a hole which, I imagine, saved her life as that kept her from going into hypothermia.

"She said a gust of wind took her. The cold air was passing over the top, she was a very lucky girl."

Rescuers: David McCrum and Richard Lamont. Pic: BBC
Rescuers: David McCrum and Richard Lamont. Pic: BBC
The woman is treated
A helicopter lifts the injured student on Cavehill
Cavehill Country Park: Rescue operation under way. Photo: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.

The pair found the handbag during an early morning run and after returning they found a coat and hat and became increasingly worried.

"I looked down to see roughly where she fell and I heard a voice saying 'hello'.

"I came across her and couldn't believe it.

"I was amazed, it was unbelievable."

Incredibly, the student was very coherent and was able to speak to the men who found her.

They estimate the woman fell around 60ft.

David said: "Her wits were about her when she was talking to us. She was very coherent.

"The first thing I said was 'I found your coat and hat.'

"I put it round her and took what I had and put it round her and she was answering every question."

He added: "She was a wee warrior."

The woman was out in the freezing cold overnight and said she was constantly hoping and praying that someone would find her.

David said: "I just held her hand and she was gripping it very tightly when they were moving her."

The rescuers say they now have a special bond with the girl.

"When you are looking in to someone's eyes and they are fighting for their life, it touches you deep.

"At first it was just amazing that I heard that voice. It was touching, shock, everything was going through my mind.

Cavehill Country Park: Rescue operation under way. Photo: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Cavehill Country Park: Rescue operation under way. Photo: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Cavehill Country Park: Rescue operation under way. Photo: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Cavehill Country Park: Rescue operation under way. Photo: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Belfast's Cave Hill

He added: "It's like a bond when you find someone like that fighting for their life, you know that she's been through mental stuff that night that you can't even comprehend, she's basically found a brother."

A helicopter was used to lift the woman to an ambulance in the area. She is being treated at the Royal Victoria Hospital where her condition was described as 'stable'.

A PSNI search and rescue team, mountain rescue, the ambulance service and fire service were involved in the operation.

A PSNI spokesman said: "Thank you to the vigilant members of the public who found this girl and stayed with her until help arrived."

The police gave the following safety advice for those who venture out walking on hills;

  • Tell someone where you are going
     
  • Tell someone when you will be back
     
  • Carry a mobile phone
     
  • Wrap up for the weather conditions
     
  • Carry some food

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