Horrific 20m cliff fall spurs strangers' generosity
AGONISED cries which echoed through a remote swimming hole alerted a Coolum couple to a young man broken, bleeding and alone on the rocks below.
Fritz and Lexa Schoenis's first instinct was to help the stranger - both in that moment of terror, and the days and weeks to follow.
The holiday-makers learned Ken Urbanik had climbed a cliff, desperate for a better view of Murray Falls in north Queensland, when he realised he couldn't get back down.
He began to slide, panicked, and launched himself towards the water but hit a ledge on the 20m plummet.
He could not move his leg, he had broken a vertebrae in his lower back, and his tailbone and shattered bone fragments had lodged in his spinal cord.
No one knew it at the time but once in hospital, doctors feared he may never walk again.
Fritz ran down to comfort the man and protect him from the blazing sun as Ken's travel companion convinced another visitor to drive to town and call an ambulance.
The 22-year-old was airlifted to the Townsville Hospital, but Fritz and Lexa couldn't shake the thought of that broken young man.
They visited him and learned that after multiple surgeries, Ken could not be released as he had been living from his car while on a work visa.
"We put our hand up," Lexa said.
Lexa said while Ken's travel insurance had covered the surgery and travel to date, he would live in a body brace all day, every day for at least the next 12 weeks.
She said the young man, who hailed from Estonia, realised how close he came to tragedy, but still had a long road to recovery, with ongoing physiotherapy and scans until he could walk unassisted.
Lexa said Ken was unable to practice his trade as a car mechanic, and so the couple are asking anyone able to donate via a GoFundMe (search "Ken Urbanik").
"Be kind, and let's all help Ken in whatever way we can," she said.
If anyone can offer their help or services to aid Ken's recovery, please contact Lexa Schoeni on firstname.lastname@example.org
Would you help out a stranded traveller?
This poll ended on 27 December 2018.
Yes, it's the best part of humanity.
I would if I could.
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