Thursday 29 September 2016

Woman sustains head injury at Cliffs of Moher when she was blown over by high winds

Pat Flynn

Published 02/03/2016 | 18:48

The Cliffs of Moher.
The Cliffs of Moher.

A woman is recovering in hospital after she sustained a head injury at the Cliffs of Moher in Co Clare when she was blown over by high winds.

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Management at the popular attraction had warned visitors not to venture onto the cliff walks however the woman in her 60s was one of dozens who defied the warnings and braved the elements.

The woman suffered a fall at around 11.45am and staff at the Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience contacted the ambulance service.

An ambulance from Ennistymon and a rapid response advanced paramedic unit from Ennis responded to the call.

Paramedics found the woman had sustained a head injury after she was blown over by a gust. She was transported to University Hospital Limerick where she is being treatment for head injuries.

Staff at the country’s second most popular visit attraction follow strict safety protocols to deal with severe weather conditions at the 700ft high cliffs.

Staff had issued their own ‘Orange’ warning early in the day and displayed signs warning people not to go near the cliff walks. The high visibility signs clearly tell visitors: “Danger. Do not proceed. Weather conditions are too hazardous for visiting the cliffs."

At midday however, with winds gusting to over 130kmh, management stepped up their alert to 'Status Red’ which involves evacuating all persons from the area.

Dozens of visitors continued to defy the warnings throughout the day putting themselves at serious risk. In the past, visitors have been injured by flying debris while a vehicle evacuating staff from the centre was lifted off the ground.

Cliffs of Moher Visitor Experience Director Katherine Webster said: “We went to Orange Status at 7.45am due to high winds with gusts in excess of 100kph. Orange signs were erected at entrances to the site and booked group operators were advised of the conditions and status.”

"By 11.55am the Operations Manager determined that conditions had worsened with gusts in excess of 130kph and took the decision to move to Red Status and to close the centre and arrange for any visitors onsite and staff to be evacuated,” she added.

Ms Webster confirmed that a visitor to the cliffs was injured as a result of being blown over by a gust of wind.

She warned however: "We appeal to the public and especially to coach operators to heed the warnings issued by the visitor centre operation. We do not take the decision to go to Orange or Red Status lightly but do so in the interests of the safety of visitors and staff alike.”

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