A Chester man believes only a miracle saved him after a daft act caused him to fall more than 20 feet from a rooftop on to railings.
Tom Blythin, 27, from Westminster Road in Hoole, had been out in Chester with his pals last month when he decided to call on a female friend around midnight by knocking on her third storey bedroom window as the intercom wasn’t working.
After clambering up scaffolding to the rear of City Road, he lost grip on the roof tiles and stared death in the face as he slid down on his backside with the concrete ground far below.
Drawing on all his experience as a skateboarder, trampolinist and former free runner, Tom turned his body and aimed for flat-topped railings in the hope he could break his fall.
He estimates he was travelling about 35mph when his left foot smacked the railings followed by his left arm pit on top of the metal structure which cut into his muscle and bent with the force.
Tom then bounced on to the concrete, flattening an upturned supermarket basket in the process, but was still conscious with no head or spinal injuries although his left foot was bent the wrong way round and shattered into nine pieces.
“I shouldn’t be alive, they told me that. It was a big impact,” said Tom, whose friends quickly turned up at the scene which he described as ‘like a Vietnam film’.
Tom, who used to box, insists he had only drunk three pints when he embarked on his Batman-style antics just to visit his friend at the end of a night out. “It was just to go and watch some telly. The buzzer didn’t work. It was as simple as that,” he explained.
“I know it sounds mental but I never thought I was going to fall because I’m a powerful fella.”
'Sweating from head to toe'
Recalling his state of mind, as he began to slide off the roof, Tom said: “What happens is your heart rate goes at 400 beats a minute, instantly, to the point where you feel like you’ve been stabbed in your chest. And then instantaneously I was sweating from head to toe within half a second.
“I started skidding because I was on my bum, put both my feet and my hands down on the tiles to gain grip, to stop the slide, which was very slow, but I started building up speed because it was a bit mossy so I butted the wall next to me to get more friction then I realised, after about a second of that, that it wasn’t going to stop me going off the roof.
“I thought, I’m defo dead, I’m going to make a go of this and try and gain as much velocity away from the building because what’s down there? There’s a basement, stairs, a really nasty landing.”
Tom tucked himself into a ball to gain speed then aimed for the railings and spread out his arms as he plummeted.
“I heard the wind rush past my ears, the lot. I must have hit it like 35mph. You can see the railings where I’ve landed on it. They’ve bent, honest, and they’ve never knocked me out.”
The worst part was when the ambulance crew arrived and the paramedic had to use considerable force to twist his backwards-facing left foot the right way round.
“He screamed when he put it in, he went ‘Argh!’. Because I took it in visually, for the first week I had dreams about that.”
Taken to Aintree University Hospital, he later had an operation on his shattered foot at the Countess of Chester Hospital.
He will have more surgery in three weeks’ time when his ankle will be fused which causes a limp. But Tom already has a limp in that leg from a previous ‘incident’. And amazingly, surgery on his left arm, in which he has suffered nerve damage, has actually improved his mobility in that arm after a previous operation following a workplace accident.
The NHS mental health team even visited in case he had suffered post traumatic stress disorder but he has now been given the all clear.
Tom, who has a two-year-old daughter, acknowledges he and his friends were brought up on the TV stunt show Jackass which had led to a sense of indestructibility. Surviving being run over by a bus while skateboarding is one example from his youth.
However, Tom, who is in pain but also in good spirits having cheated death, says his latest escapade has taught him a lesson.
“I’m 27 years of age and I’m not an idiot but it shows how much of an idiot you can be when you just want to go for a cup of tea and watch some telly!
“I felt indestructible until this but when I was lying there, I thought that was a bad choice jumping across those roofs. I thought that was it.
“I’m not crazy. I like economics and I’ve done protests against Conservative cuts but I’ve got to be elated and positive about what’s happened. I’ve been told I can’t walk now until October 20. I’m stuck here.
“I’m just happy to be alive. My mates, they know if I’d had the cape on that night, I’d have been sound,” joked Tom, who hopes to begin working as a cocktail waiter at the new Las Iguanas restaurant in Pepper Street after it opens and he’s recovered.
Thanking medics, he said: “Anyone who attended on scene that night was fantastic. They were very very professional. The surgeons at the Countess and the staff on ward 45.”
Mum and dad Deborah and Nigel Blythin are looking after Tom and clearly relieved he is all right.
Dad admits Tom had been ‘very silly’ and ‘doesn’t half test you’ but joked: “Somebody told him the EU had changed the laws on gravity!”
One resident who was at the scene the night Tom fell told The Chronicle: “I thought he was dead.”
North West Ambulance Service confirmed its attendance at the scene at 12.06am on Sunday, July 26.