Living to tell the tale: Woman speaks out after falling off Cape Breton cliff
The beauty of Cape Breton's coastline attracts many to the cliffs for a closer look, but that can be dangerous.
Swivel Point in Sydney Mines is no exception.
“I went to take a picture of the nice view, and it was too late – and I was gone,” says 24-year-old Taylin Kavanaugh. “It's just not worth the picture.”
It was about a year ago when Kavanaugh says she fell 60 feet – about the height of two telephone poles – to the shoreline below after the ground beneath her crumbled.
She says she wasn’t even daringly close to the edge of the cliff when it happened, but about three or four meters away.
“It was definitely a horrible experience,” said Kavanaugh. “I couldn't move lying on the beach. I didn't know if I was going to die. I didn't know what was going to happen.”
Kavanaugh is speaking out after seeing someone post a picture of erosion in Point Aconi to social media.
Today, still recovering almost a year later, she walks with a cane.
“I shattered my pelvis on the right side, I broke a couple vertebrae in my lower back, and I broke my arm and my elbow, so I was in a wheelchair for almost two months after the accident,” she says.
CBRM Councillor Gordon MacDonald says there's not much that can be done to protect people from getting too close to the cliff's edge.
“You can go all around the island and there are big cliffs everywhere,” says MacDonald. “You absolutely have to use caution and you can't put signs up everywhere.”
It's not the first time someone had to be rescued after going over the side of a Cape Breton cliff - and MacDonald fears it won't be the last.
“There is all of kinds of erosion going on around here and people have to be cautious when you get out to those cliffs that are 25 to 65 feet high,” says MacDonald. “You should use extreme caution.”
Kavanaugh says the ground along the coast can be deceiving.
“You can't see what's underneath, and how far the erosion really goes back,” says Kavanaugh. “And, what looks like solid ground sometimes isn't. It happens really quickly.”