Teen girl attacked by seagull falls off 15ft harbour wall
Published 14/07/2016 | 07:45
A teenage girl was flown to hospital on Wednesday, after falling off a 15ft harbour wall when attacked by a seagull..
The 18-year-old, named only as Joanna, was airlifted to hospital with suspected spinal injuries after a seagull tried to steal her ice cream at Smeatons Pier in St Ives, Cornwall.
St Ives Harbour Master Steve Bassett, who saw the incident, said: “She was sat eating an ice cream and a seagull came down from above. I think she panicked and fell off the pier.
“People sit on the pier all the time enjoying an ice cream – it is what you do on holiday. I hope her injuries are not bad.”
The teenager was carried in an inshore lifeboat to an air ambulance on the beach, which then flew her to the Royal Cornwall Hospital.
The victim’s mother, Anita, phoned local radio station Pirate FM.
She said: “[Joanna] was sat on the pier eating an ice cream and a seagull came and took it off her – and she just fell on to the pebbles at the bottom.
“It was a case of being in the right place at the right time because as soon as she fell a coast guard came running over and said: 'Don’t move, just don’t move.’ They were absolutely amazing with her.
“Joanna phoned me and said: 'Don’t worry, Mum, but I’ve fallen off a wall. They’re just checking me over but I’ve got to go.’ And that was the only phone call I had. I was absolutely gutted – because that’s your worst fear, isn’t it?
“I’d do anything for my children – I’d take all that pain away. It is tough – but she is absolutely fine.”
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Photographer Chris Oates also witnessed the event and said: “I saw some gulls attacking holidaymakers and then they had a go at her and she just fell four to five metres.
“Seagulls are a huge problem down here. I have seen them attack children the same way they attack adults – they know no difference. Something needs to be done about the seagulls.”
In summer last year, gulls killed three pets in Devon and Cornwall.
An eight-year-old Yorkshire terrier, Roo, was pecked to death in the garden of his owner’s home in Newquay, in front of her distressed young children.
In nearby Liskeard, Jan Byrne lost her 20-year-old pet tortoise to gulls in an equally savage attack.
A Chihuahua puppy also died in Devon after it was attacked by gulls. In Hyde Park, London, there were reports in 2014 of a “killer seagull” that would grab pigeons by the neck and drown them in the Serpentine before “feasting on their bodies”.
The recently departed Prime Minister, David Cameron, had called for a “big conversation” on seagulls, pledging £250,000 in a budget towards the issue.
This proposal was later scrapped as a “low priority”.