23 July 2015 was the first day of the summer holidays so 12 year old Ross Hollett and his friend Arthur decided to spend their first day of freedom crabbing at Padstow Harbour.
The boys cycled from Wadebridge along the Camel Trail and spent the afternoon collecting plenty of crabs and shrimps. Pulling in the last line of the day, Ross lost his balance and fell off the harbour wall.
Ross landed on a boat and fractured his skull before ricocheting into the granite harbour wall in front of him, badly cutting his forehead. He then dropped into the sea.
A passer-by heard the commotion, ran over and jumped onto the boat below. He dragged Ross out of the water onto the deck while a woman onlooker called 999.
Ross’ forehead was bleeding profusely but his fractured skull showed no outward signs of injury. A first responder arrived on the scene and called for the air ambulance to be tasked.
Ross said: “I was so cold and soaked through. I felt dizzy and realised that I was in shock. I was surprised to hear that the air ambulance was coming as I didn’t feel that much was really wrong with me. I would have liked a ride in the helicopter but not for a bad reason like this!”
Cornwall Air Ambulance took just five minutes to reach Padstow but there was not enough space to land in the harbour. Therefore the helicopter landed on a sandbar and the crew were ferried to Ross on a Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB). After checking Ross over they strapped him into a stretcher and took him back to the air ambulance on the RIB.
Ross said: “The paramedics were nice and they told me that the helicopter had to keep its engine and rotor blades running as it was on the sandbar and the tide was coming in. It was really, really loud!”
It took just 11 minutes to get Ross to the Royal Hospital Cornwall at Treliske and there he had an X-ray and a CAT scan that confirmed a fractured skull. He was kept in for 24 hours under observation before going home.
Ross has made a full recovery. Although he’s advised not to play rugby, he continues to surf and play football. He’s also looking forward to going crabbing again in Padstow soon!