Teen who fell from 60-foot cliff now recovering in Glace Bay Hospital

Family says Jessica Walsh has long road ahead of her, but is showing constant signs of improvement

Sharon Montgomery-Dupe smontgomery@cbpost.com
Published on March 31, 2014

GLACE BAY — The mother of a 17-year-old girl who fell from a 60-foot cliff in Glace Bay earlier this month says her daughter is recovering closer to home.

"She has a long road ahead of her, " said Debbie Walsh, adding her daughter Jessica is in a lot of pain.

"Physio comes in here and does some exercises with her — getting her legs moving and little things like that."

Walsh said attempts were made to sit Jessica up on the side of the bed, but it was too painful for her.

"I think they were going to start again Monday (March 31) to try again. She also has a low grade fever but they don't know what's causing it yet."

Walsh, who hasn’t left her daughter’s side since the accident, said Jessica has been transferred from the Halifax infirmary of the QEII Health Sciences Centre, to the Glace Bay Hospital.

"It's so nice to have her back here," she said.

"My friends and family are closer and her friends are closer, which is great."

Walsh said her daughter will be transferred back to the Halifax hospital by ambulance May 5 to have the medal rods in her pelvis removed.

"We will be there a few days to make sure everything is okay."

Jessica was walking along the cliff March 7, shortly before 10 p.m., after she left a teen dance at nearby Ring 73 with a 16-year-old boy when she fell over the icy embankment in between Sixth and Seventh streets to the rocky shore more than 60 feet below.

Her injuries include a hairline fracture on her upper right arm, as well as a broken femur, a broken pelvis and her lungs were bruised significantly.

Walsh said her daughter remembers her young friend asking her to go for a walk, but nothing else.

"Everything after that she said is black. Whether that will come back with time, we don't know."

Walsh said there were tense moments during Jessica's recovery, including when some fat from the femur went up to her brain and caused her to have mini-strokes. She was on a respirator for nine days.

Walsh said after several months in hospital, Jessica will continue her recovery at the rehabilitation centre in Sydney Mines.

Madonna MacIntyre of Enfield, Jessica's aunt,  said the public has been very supportive and even planned a benefit dance for Jessica.

"She received more than $1,000. People are showing a lot of support for her. She received a tremendous amount of cards."

She said other local groups have also been doing things on their own.

"My mother said women took up a collection at her bingo. My brother plays hockey and those guys got together and took up a collection, and I'm sure there's much more."

She said the Glace Bay fire department has also showed incredible support for Jessica.

"We have to thank them. They’ve done other things, really going above and beyond to help Jessica.,” she said.

"First they rescue her, then continue to be amazing with their support. They are phenomenal."

MacIntyre said many people who are sending cards and contributing don't even know Jessica.

"The public should know the family is so thankful for the support they've gotten. Many people are doing this for someone they don't even know. That's how good Cape Bretoners are."

MacIntyre said the family has been through a lot including not knowing if Jessica would come out of her coma.

“Then the prayers, the cards, the support — I 'm sure that all added up to helping her be where she is now."