Sat, 08 Jun 2019
A HERMITAGE man says he had “no hesitation” in jumping a barrier to come to the aid of a seven-year-old boy who fell from a rollercoaster.
Jon Philo was queuing up with his son Maxwell to ride the Twister ride at Lightwater Valley, a theme park near Ripon, North Yorkshire.
The incident took place last Thursday and Mr Philo explained how he saw the child fall 15ft from the ride.
He said: “The ride continued to go round and all I heard was the mother hysterically screaming ‘my son’ and then I knew what had happened.
“I jumped over the barriers and the track and if I am brutally honest I was terrified. He was motionless and it was surreal.”
Mr Philo was assisted by an off-duty police officer as the pair tried to keep the young boy as calm as possible.
“He started to move, which was good, but we were unsure as to how much damage was caused,” said Mr Philo.
“We had to try and get the boy as relaxed as possible because it was difficult for the paramedics and the stretcher to get to him because of where he landed.
“He was in a lot of distress and we had to make sure that he didn’t move whilst trying to keep him comfortable at the same time.”
The 41-year-old was also keeping an eye on his 10-year-old son who was standing on the side where the queue originally formed.
And it was his son’s quick-thinking which left Mr Philo very proud.
He said: “I looked up and saw him trying to guide the air ambulance to where to land.
“He was waving his arms and it made me proud to see him doing that.”
Mr Philo and the police officer had to make the decision to move the boy to allow access for the air ambulance.
He said: “No one could get to him, so we had to lift him over two sets of tracks before getting the gates open and then keeping him as calm as possible.
“We couldn’t see any major injuries and he was moving, which was good.”
The young boy, who is autistic, was airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary with head injuries after the incident – which made national news headlines – and Mr Philo admitted it was tough to see.
“It was absolutely terrifying,” he said. “It was one of the most surreal and scariest things I have seen.
“We couldn’t see exactly what happened and it’s terrifying because it could have happened to anyone and being a father myself just makes you think.
“It’s not something you want to see and as a parent and an adult you don’t know what you’d do in that situation.
“I think instinct just took over and I had no hesitation in jumping the barrier and thankfully the boy was okay at the time.”
On Monday, North Yorkshire Police said the boy was “breathing independently and his condition continues to improve”.
In June 2001, 20-year-old Gemma Savage from South Yorkshire died when two of the theme park rollercoaster’s cars collided.