Lucky man survives 70m fall
A NIMBIN man is lucky to be alive after falling more than 70 metres down an escarpment at the Cape Byron Lighthouse yesterday.
The man is believed to have jumped the safety railing to retrieve his hat when he lost his footing and tumbled down the steep grassy slope.
A witness said that one minute she had seen the man on the wrong side of the railing and the next he was "somersaulting" down the hill, arms flailing as he tried desperately to grab onto the grass and stop himself.
He slid about 75 metres, coming to a stop on a cliff ledge.
The man was visible from lookouts at the lighthouse and witnesses said they could see him waving his arms for help.
Emergency crews, including the Westpac Rescue Helicopter were on the scene soon after, but as conditions were deemed too dangerous for a helicopter rescue, it was up to ground crews to retrieve the man.
The four-hour rescue operation involved two Brunswick Valley Volunteer Rescue Association (VRA) members and a Special Casualty Access Team (SCAT) paramedic abseiling down to secure the man in a stretcher.
He was then pulled back up the escarpment by a small army of police, paramedics and VRA volunteers, as a crowd of sightseers looked on.
The man was in an ambulance by 2pm.
A hospital assessment revealed he had only suffered a minor ankle injury and cuts and abrasions.
Inspector Greg Jago, of Byron Bay police, described him as "a very lucky man".