Backpacker injures spine in fall

A 21-YEAR-OLD German backpacker suffered serious spinal injuries after falling from a rope swing at an Upper Coopers Creek organic farm near Repentance Creek on Monday.

The man was catapulted back on to the rocks while attempting to swing back to the take-off point.

He landed on his chest fracturing his fifth and sixth vertebrae and severing his spinal cord which has left him paralysed from the waist down.

After a five-hour rescue operation to extract the man from the isolated property, he was taken to Lismore Base Hospital by ambulance.

He was transferred to Royal North Shore Hospital emergency department in Sydney yesterday.

NSW Ambulance duty officer Inspector Greg Powell said the man had been swinging from a 15m rope attached to a tall tree in a steep gully when he fell.

“It was a difficult extraction in rough steep terrain and we were unable to get the rescue helicopter in,” he said.

“Ambulance paramedics and Police Rescue Squad officers managed to get him out by about 9pm.”

People staying at the farm helped emergency service workers.

According to witnesses, other people have also been injured on the same swing.

It is understood the man was staying at the farm, Jasper Hall, as a woofer (Willing Workers on Organic Farms) – working in exchange for board and food.

Richmond police Inspector Greg Moore said the accident occurred shortly before 4pm and emergency services were called about 4.15pm.

“The Police Rescue Squad from Lismore attended, providing lighting and assisting NSW Ambulance officers and police from Tweed-Byron with the extraction during the co-ordinated response,” he said.

Ambulance team leader Phil Jarvis, also a member of the service’s elite Special Casualty Access Team, said the painstaking rescue was hampered by the cold, wet and dark conditions and the steep, muddy and slippery terrain.

Insp Moore reminded people to be careful if swinging from ropes in dangerous situations.

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