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Miracle of sleepwalker who fell 50ft from balcony: 'There was just ONE way I could land and survive'

11:48 Jul 26 2014 South Yorkshire, Lea Brook Lane, Kimberworth Park, Rotherham, Yorkshire and the Humber, England, S62, United Kingdom


Miracle of sleepwalker who fell 50ft from balcony: 'There was just ONE way I could land and survive' Miracle of sleepwalker who fell 50ft from balcony: 'There was just ONE way I could land and survive' Miracle of sleepwalker who fell 50ft from balcony: 'There was just ONE way I could land and survive' Miracle of sleepwalker who fell 50ft from balcony: 'There was just ONE way I could land and survive' Miracle of sleepwalker who fell 50ft from balcony: 'There was just ONE way I could land and survive'
Description
When Amy Wigfull fell asleep in her Spanish hotel she was simply looking forward to another day of sun-­ bathing. Instead, she woke up two days later on life support.

In the night she had got out of bed, walked into the bathroom, climbed into the bath and opened the fifth floor window before crawling out and plunging 50ft on to the concrete below – all while still fast asleep.

By rights she should be dead. But not only did she survive, only a month later she is back at home and beginning to walk again.

Speaking for the first time about the accident, it’s clear Amy, 24, understands just how lucky she is.

“It is a miracle I survived,” she says. “A few inches to the left and I would have hit a motorbike. To the right it would have been some boulders.

“If I had woken up as I was falling I would have been dead. But because I was still asleep my body was in a relaxed state when I hit the floor. If I had been awake and tense the injuries would have been catastrophic.

“Just by looking at the photo of where I fell I wonder how on earth I survived it. There were thousands of ways I could have landed and died but only one of landing and surviving. I was so lucky.”

With no history of sleepwalking, Amy believes it was caused of sunstroke after a solid day of sunbathing which caused her night-time wandering.

The fall left her with broken wrist, shoulder and pelvis, a punctured lung, bleeding on the brain and broken vertebra in her back.

In another amazing stroke of luck, she was discovered within a few minutes by a man who had gone for a walk after arguing with his wife. If she hadn’t been found she would have been dead within 20 minutes.

Over several weeks in a Malaga hospital Amy, a shop display designer, had three operations on her wrist, hip and back, had her lung drained and she went from a size 10 to less than a size 6.

So it’s incredible to see her cheerfully hobbling around on crutches at her parents’ home in Mexborough, South Yorkshire.

She finds the crutches exhausting, but her escape and recovery have astonished doctors. Once her bones are healed they predict she will be walking normally within the year.

“At first I thought I would be in a wheelchair for the rest of my life,” she says.

It all began when Amy set off for a three-day break in Benalmadena, near Malaga, with 13 female relatives.

“All the family doesn’t get together much, so we went to Spain for the weekend to celebrate mum’s 40th birthday,” she says.

They spent a day on the beach before heading into town for a party.

The morning afterwards she went straight to the beach, slapped on low-protection Factor 10, and stayed out from 9am to 6pm. She admits she was reckless in her pursuit of a tan on such a short trip.

“I went in and out of the pool, which washed the oil off as well, so by the end of the day I was badly sunburnt,” she says.

“As I came off the beach I told my mum I didn’t feel well. I felt really hot, and freezing on the inside at the same time. But I was still OK to go out.

Amy remembers nothing else that night. “My last memory is doing my hair before we went out and taking a picture of my mum,” she says. “That’s it until I woke up in hospital two days later.”

In fact the group had a quiet night at a restaurant and got back to their hotel at 1am. Amy was sharing a suite with her mum and two aunts.

At 2.30am her Aunt Bev got up to use the loo and saw Amy’s bed was empty.

Mum Shelley, a foster carer, says: “Bev came in to where I was sleeping and asked where Amy was.

“Then we saw the bathroom window wide open, heard a commotion outside and we looked down and saw Amy there on the ground.”

They rushed downstairs.

“I was hysterical,” says Shelley. “The man who had found her grabbed me by my shoulders and told me not to look at Amy on the floor. I kept asking if she was OK and he said yes.

“I thought at first she must have walked downstairs and tripped and fell. I remember looking up at that window thinking there was no way she could have fallen all that way and survived.”

An ambulance had already been called and Amy was assessed, X-rayed, scanned and treated within three hours.

Shelley says: “When they read me the list of injuries and said how lucky she was to be alive, it just didn’t register. It still hasn’t hit me how much of a miracle this is. She shouldn’t be here.”

Amy remembers only waking from her coma two days later, groggy from bleeding on the brain.

“When I came round I could see the life support machine and my arm in a pot and I thought, ‘What the hell have I done, what has happened?’

"I kept asking my parents but I couldn’t take in what they were telling me.”

Her dad Gary Chester and boyfriend Andrew Smith had flown over at once.

Back home, her friends set up a donation site to raise £16,500 for an air ambulance to bring her home because she didn’t have travel insurance.

And as news of her miraculous escape went around the world, money flooded in to help, including £4,000 from America.

Amy knows some people will assume alcohol was involved.

She says: “You hear stories all the time of people falling when they’re drunk on holiday. But the toxicology report proved there were no alcohol or drugs in my system.”

“I was the youngest in a party of 14 and the oldest was 67. It wasn’t meant to be a mad one. We just wanted a bit of a break and some sunshine. Looking at articles since I came home it says sunburn can trigger sleepwalking.”

As she gradually improved, Amy was itching to get home and 21 days later she was told she was well enough to take the air ambulance to Doncaster Airport.

She was transferred to Sheffield’s Northern General Hospital and got a full diagnosis in English for the first time.

Amy says: “Within two days the physio had me sitting up at the end of the bed. It was an incredible feeling. It was the first time I had sat up in weeks and I nearly passed out!

“A few days later they pushed me to walk on a frame. Then they pushed me to get up on crutches.

“I was so determined to walk and I was in a lot of pain but I did it. Now it’s all about regaining the muscle to have the strength to walk again.”

On Monday, just eight days later, she was allowed home.

Throughout it all, her devoted boyfriend Andrew, 21, who works in a shop near Amy’s in the Meadowhall shopping centre, has been by her side.

She says: “Andrew has been amazing. He has done everything. He has cleaned me, he’s fed me, got me changed, helped me go to the toilet.

"He stayed by my bedside every night in hospital in Spain and in Sheffield.

“He would wake up and get anything I needed. He has been brilliant.”

Now Amy is determined to walk into church in September when Andrew’s father gets married.

“I don’t want to be there in a wheelchair. I want to be stood up in a nice dress and a nice pair of shoes,” she says.

Next year, she and her mum plan to return to Malaga to thank the people who helped them.

Amy says: “The doctors will be amazed to see me walking – I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces.

“I will be getting travel insurance this time and I would urge everyone to always take it out.

“But I will definitely be staying on the ground floor next time. I am never going off the ground floor again!”
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