A WIGAN woman who was crippled in a “tombstoning” prank today said she wanted her near-death experience to be a lesson to others.
Two years ago Natalie Prescott was flown to intensive care at by air ambulance after plunging 40ft down a cliff at the flooded East Quarry, in Appley Bridge, striking rocks and bouncing into the freezing waters.
Amazingly she survived the ordeal but needed the experts from Bolton Mountain Rescue to save her life.
The then 23-year-old pulverised her ankle and completely smashed the top of a knee cap. For a time it was feared she might have to have her leg amputated.
After months of surgery, including metal plating in her ankle and an artificial knee joint, she is today mobile enough to enjoy a fullish life, walking with a stick. Indeed she has since become a mum to her first child, baby daughter Scarlett.
Today Natalie, who is from Standish Lower Ground but now lives in Hindley, chose to bravely speak out for the first time to prevent other young lives being blighted by such injuries or even worse during the current hot spell and during the school holidays.
She said: “It was a warm day, I had had a drink and it was a bit of a dare, I suppose.
“I had never been before never mind jumped, but I heard a lot about it from my mates.
“I remember jumping and then banging into the rocks somewhere near the bottom.It must have been a state of shock but it didn’t hurt at first.
“My ankle was really bad but all the injuries to the ligaments and the joint were inside, there were no cuts and blood, no markings at all, so I didn’t think that it was going to
“But when I looked at my right knee the top had come off and there was a big hole in it with the bone sticking out to so I knew that was really bad.
“I never lost consciousness but the shock of it left me feeling like I was in a dream and it was someone else lying there.
“I remember a passer-by squeezing my hand all the time and telling me it was going to be all right.
“Then I could hear the helicopter and I was being strapped onto a spinal stretcher.
“The doctors were fantastic with me, they never gave up and although I was told that I may have to have my leg amputated above the knee they managed to save it, I owe them a lot.
Natalie has never spoken out to the media about the incident before.
But she has chosen to today after seeing a group of teens from Beech Hill with towels and drinks heading to the beauty spot.
She knows that while she survived the plunge, many have not.
Natalie, who lives off Bridgewater Street, said: ”Don’t take the risk, it just isn’t worth it.
“I was lucky even thought these injuries will be with me for the rest of my life.
“But others may not be.
“If you want to go swimming go to Wigan Pool...it is great fun and you are not taking you life in your hands.”
Experts point out that there are a number of hidden dangers under the waters of East Quarry which could be fatal for tombstoners, including hidden rocks and tree branches.