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Meet the only man who survived after a fall from the cliffs of Moher

Photo by Saad Chaudhry on Unsplash

Peter Fitzpatrick, 35, is the only man who survived after falling from the cliffs of Moher. 25 years later, Peter and his mum look back on the day he miraculously survived and the exceptional operation set up to save him. The Doolin native opens up about the details of the accident and his struggle in the years that followed.

September 1997, Peter is 12 when he decides to go with his brother Steven and his friend PJ to cycle over the cliffs of Moher and take some pictures for a school project. Having grown up in the area, they know the many nooks and crannies of these touristy cliffs, where they are used to spending time. However, the three boys are far from expecting what is about to happen. Deciding to take a path they already know to get down the cliffs, Peter’s foot slips on the cliff face and the 12 years old tumbles.

“We left our bikes on the side of the road and we started to walk down this steep incline and it brings you to the very bottom of the cliffs. Three of us went down but I obviously fell all the way down, so I started to tumble.”

Peter Fitzpatrick

After a 48 feet fall, Peter lands on the sharp and wet rocks down the cliffs. His brother, who had already arrived downstairs, rushed to his aid trying to keep him conscious until help arrives. It took two hours for his friend PJ to go up the cliffs and stop a tourist bus in which an Australian doctor happened to be sitting. Although first aid is provided, Peter has to be climbed to the top of the 800-foot high cliffs, and the operation can be perilous.

This short documentary looks back on Peter’s accident, 25 years later. Peter tells in detail what happened on this day and how he miraculously survived.

After the arrival of the Doolin Coast Guard and the emergency services allowing Peter to be placed in a safe position, the rescue lasts 6 hours. A pulley system is set up in order to pull Peter to the top of the cliffs but the height to be covered is such that the rescue services on the spot call for help to pull the 12-year-old to the top of the cliffs. Dozens of Doolin residents from surrounding pubs and businesses responded to help the rescuers pull Peter up.

“They made a call to all the local pubs in Doolin that they needed help at the cliffs. Fifty local people came up from the pubs or whatever, all people and family that I know now or these days as well, everyone came up and started to manually pull up the cliffs and it took two hours” Peter said.

When Peter reaches the top of the cliff, his mum Lorraine is shocked to see her son’s body in a disastrous state.

When we got him to the top, he was a mess. I looked at his head, it was about twice the size. I was just in shock and then he opened his eyes, and he was going in and out of consciousness seemingly coming up the cliff, and when he opened his eyes, his eyes were just black.

Lorraine Fitzpatrick

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