Woman survives 150ft jump from Forth bridge

A woman who threw herself 150 feet from the Forth road bridge in Scotland has become only the third person to survive the fall since the bridge opened in 1964.

A woman who threw herself 150 feet from the Forth road bridge in Scotland has become only the third person to survive the fall since the bridge opened in 1964.

Some 800 people are thought to have plunged to their death from the bridge, amounting to at least 20 suicides each year.

But Louise Valentine, aged 26, was yesterday described as "stable" by the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, where she is being treated for multiple injuries, including serious back and shoulder complications.

Ms Valentine, from the West Lothian village of Uphall, was plucked from the icy waters of the Firth of Forth by a passing yachtsman. The South Queensferry lifeboat and another rescue boat went to help. They towed the small yacht to a nearby pier, from where an ambulance took the young woman 10 miles to hospital at about 5.30pm on Wednesday.

"If this lady survives she will be incredibly lucky," said a spokesman for the South Queensferry lifeboat.

"It is very, very rare for someone to survive that fall. It is an horrendous drop. Plunging from that height is like hitting a concrete wall."

The last suicide from the suspension bridge occurred last month. A man stole a beer truck in Edinburgh and drove it at high speed, knocking down a policeman and smashing into several cars, before driving on to the bridge, abandoning the truck and jumping to his death.

Police said each year between 20 and 25 people make the same leap from the same spot as Ms Valentine, at the centre of the bridge - a total of more than 800.

Ms Valentine is only the third known survivor.

The last person to survive was a 19-year-old man from Fife, who jumped in March, 1998. His leap was watched by a Royal Navy cadet and an army corporal who were passing beneath the bridge in a speedboat. When they hauled him from the water he was still conscious. He is believed to have survived because the rucksack he was wearing cushioned his high-speed impact with the water.

Ms Valentine's neighbours described her as a quiet person who lived alone.

Her next door neighbour, Lucy Henderson, said: "I can't believe she would do something like that. She is a lovely young girl, always very nice."

* Holidaymakers were warned yesterday that rubber dinghies could prove fatal after two teenagers were washed out to sea, sparking a rescue mission.

Antony Scott and Chris Parker, both 14, drifted out almost half a mile from the beach at Skegness, Lincolnshire. The pair, believed to be on holiday with their families from Birmingham, were towed to safety by a lifeboat crew at 2.30pm.

A Skegness lifeboat spokesman, Ben Hardaker, said there had now been nine dinghy incidents off the coast of the county this month. "I hope the parents of these lads will give them a good talking to," he said.

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