Thursday 22 August 2019

'The blood was gushing out of my eye' - Boy (13) scarred for life in forest fall onto dumped toilet

Warning: Graphic images of upsetting injuries

John McElhinney. Picture courtesy of family
John McElhinney. Picture courtesy of family
John McElhinney before his operation. Picture courtesy of family
The broken piece of toilet that John struck

Cathal McMahon

A teenager has told how he nearly lost his eye when he tumbled off his bike and smashed into a toilet cistern carelessly dumped in the woods.

John McElhinney was left scarred for life when he crashed his mountain bike on Saturday.

The 13-year-old was travelling from his home in Glenealy, Co Wicklow to meet friends on nearby Carraig Hill when the accident happened.

He told Independent.ie that as soon as he fell into the brambles he knew that something wasn’t right.

John had struck his eye off a piece of a broken ceramic toilet cistern carelessly dumped in the area that was protruding out of the ground.

“I knew I needed help when I saw all the blood gushing out of my eye. I was trying to keep myself calm.”

John McElhinney. Picture courtesy of family
John McElhinney. Picture courtesy of family

The young teenager scrambled his way out onto the road and contacted his grandmother, who was minding him at the weekend, by phone.

He was also helped by a neighbour who happened to be passing at the time.

John McElhinney before his operation. Picture courtesy of family
John McElhinney before his operation. Picture courtesy of family

They rushed to CareDoc in Wicklow town where they were informed that John may need plastic surgery.

This was followed by a visit to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin where they were referred to the Royal Victoria Eye and Ear Hospital.

The broken piece of toilet that John struck
The broken piece of toilet that John struck

By this stage John’s parents, who were away for the weekend in Mullingar, had travelled back to meet them in Dublin.

Mum Lizzie McElhinney said doctors were extremely concerned for her son’s welfare.

“The doctor there said ‘this needs to be looked at immediately’. They had him up in theatre within an hour and a half.”

John underwent surgery for around two hours, after which the family received the good news that no serious damage had been done.

“The doctor said he was extremely lucky, the cut was down to the bone and it was miraculous that he didn’t lose an eye.”

The youngster was sent back to Crumlin for an MRI scan after surgeons found what they believed were bits of bone in the wound. This later turned out to be pieces of the broken cistern.

John and Lizzie said they are furious with the person who dumped the item in the forest.

The family returned to the area on Tuesday where they discovered the discarded piece of cistern.

“John’s blood was still on it, so we knew it was the correct piece,” Lizzie explained.

John added: “For anyone that  is considering dumping anything this Christmas, I’d really like them to think twice. It is not going to cost much to get rid of it properly so please just don’t do it.”

Ann Hogan of Glenealy Tidy Towns said she was alerted to the issue online.

She said: “It was a sick thing that happened. We are totally shocked that such a thing would happen.”

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