Broken back and neck no challenge for climber Thomas

LUCKY: David with the harness he was wearing

By Michael MacLeod

A TEENAGE climber who suffered double back and neck fractures has vowed to return and conquer the quarry wall he fell off.

Plucky Thomas Hurst, 19, claims he was to blame for a horror plunge which left him hospitalised for a week while friends and family members feared for his life.

A harness failed to catch him when he slipped off a rock face in Rosyth Quarry, Fife.

But he admitted today the fall was probably his own fault after he didn’t secure his harness properly.

He said: “I was about 12ft up when my fingers just slipped and I went backwards.

“It was bad luck really that I hadn’t checked the harness was properly done up and I landed on a rock.

“It was probably more my fault than the gear’s fault.

“I knew I had done something pretty bad because my back was going numb.

“There was quite a bit of time when I was thinking the worst – that maybe I wouldn’t be able to walk again.”

“It has not put me off”

After getting a 999 call from one of Thomas’ climbing friends, medics strapped him to a spine board and carefully carried him out of the quarry.

He then spent over a week in Fife’s Queen Margaret Hospital after the July 8 accident.

The Heriot-Watt University building surveying student underwent nine X-rays and a CT scan before faced an agonising seven day wait for the results.

During his time in hospital, doctors put him under strict orders to stay as still as possible until they knew the extent of his delicate injuries.

He said: “I had a few days to think about what could potentially be wrong.

“I knew there was potential for me to be seriously injured.

“I was able to wriggle my toes and had feeling in my legs which was comforting but it was quite a relief when they said I would be OK.”

He thanked his climbing friends Steven Dale, 21, Tom Parker 19 and Steven Gaunt, 19 for putting him in the recovery position.

Had they not been trained in first aid, Thomas said his recovery may not have gone so smoothly.

He said: “When I was lying in the quarry all my mates were all very good.

“We are all trained in first aid and no-one panicked.”

Now back on his feet, Thomas has his sights set on finishing the climb which nearly took his life.

He said: “I love climbing and Scotland has so many great spots to do it in.

“I hadn’t ever been to Rosyth Quarry before but I think I will go back.

“It’s not put me off at all.”

David Somerville, a group manager for Fife Fire and Rescue, said crews feared the teenager had damaged his spine as soon as they saw him.

He said: “He had a couple of lacerations to his arm and said he had a sensation of pins and needles, all that points to a possible spinal injury.

“We got him onto a spine board and the difficulty was getting him down to the ambulance – it was over hard ground and quite rutted and we had to try to keep him level.”