SHOCKING footage shows the moment a 22-year-old woman “burst” her spine open after jumping 30ft from a bridge into a river.
Libby Sinden broke her back by launching herself off Devil’s Bridge in Kirkby, Cumbria, last July – a split decision that left her wheelchair-bound for months.
Libby is 22 but has spent the last year recovering from a life-changing accidentCredit: Kennedy News
She was wheelchair-bound for four months before learning to walk againCredit: Kennedy News
The youngster jumped from a 50ft bridge into the River Lune last JulyCredit: Kennedy News
The healthcare worker from Preston took the enormous leap to cool off from the summer heat in the River Lune below while her mates filmed.
But the impact of the plunge – “like hitting a brick wall” – ruptured one of her vertebrae instantly.
Now a year on, brave Libby has posted the moment that “changed her entire life” in a stark warning to other swimmers.
Posting on her TikTok account @libby_sinden, the horrific clip shows the thrill-seeker launching herself 50 ft and hitting the water below.
She can be heard to cry “I’ve hurt my back” while she manages to drag herself to safety before the video montage then flashes to local news stories of an emergency helicopter at the scene.
Libby lay in pain for three and a half hours while the fire service, an ambulance and mountain rescue rushed to her help.
A major six-hour operation on Libby’s spine at Preston Royal Hospital followed, leaving her with metal rods and titanium screws in her spine to fuse it back together.
She then stayed in hospital for a week before spending four months wheelchair bound and having to learn to walk again.
The lucky swimmer told Manchester Evening News: “I was one of the lucky ones not to be paralysed and have any rocks underneath.
“A lot of people jump off the bridge often. I watched quite a few people jump off it, including kids, and they were absolutely fine.
“I’d seen two people before jump in but I know over the years, hundreds or even thousands have done it. As I stood on the wall, I felt a bit of adrenaline mixed with nervousness.
“As soon as I jumped, I felt fear before I hit the water [when] I realised how high it was. It was about 50ft high.
“I decided to give it a go but I was just unlucky. The way I hit the water, it was still rather than moving, so it was almost like hitting a brick wall.”
Libby had burst a vertebrae and part of her bone went into her spinal canal, putting pressure on one of her kidneys.
She said she was “very, very close” to paralysing or killing herself.
She added: “I waited in the water. I managed to swim from one side to the other holding my back – I think it was the adrenaline. I got to the shallower bit and waited there.
“I couldn’t get out of the water until they had a way of getting me out because of a spinal injury. They eventually got me out using the platform and I got put in the air ambulance.
“I was freezing. I think I had hypothermia afterwards. Once I got to hospital, I was rushed in for emergency surgery.
it can happen to anyone at any time and that a small decision can change your entire life
“I had three metal rods and six screws made of titanium to fuse my spine and put it back together. It was a six-and-a-half-hour surgery.
“I was in hospital for a week and in a wheelchair for three or four months. I had to learn to walk again and adapt the way I do everything.
“I’ve had physio and still under that now, I’ll be in physio for quite a while.
“I was a very active person before but I’m still not allowed to run or do things that are highly active.”
“My message to other people is that it can happen to anyone at any time and that a small decision can change your entire life. Don’t do it. Everyone makes mistakes and I want to raise awareness.”
Her TikTok slides onto x-rays of bolts in her spine and photos of her looking fragile in a hospital gown.
The clip blew up with 7.6million views, 529.3K likes and 2927 comments.
Among those comments, Libby received a mixture of judgement and support.
Some were critical of her choice to jump, saying: “People need to stop underestimating water… after a certain height it becomes like jumping on concrete.”
Think twice before jumping from a height into water so no one else makes the same mistake.
Or writing, “The fact that it’s called “the devils bridge” tells me everything you need to know.”
But Libby didn’t let the trolls’ negativity ruin her message.
She said: “For those commenting negatively, the video is for awareness. Thousands have jumped from this very bridge over the years and most without injury.
“I simply wanted to show what CAN happen and to think twice before jumping from a height into water so no one else makes the same mistake.
“I knew there would be lonely, cruel trolls alongside which is why it’s taken me a year to share so I’m mentally more prepared.”
She spoke out about the area’s current warning signs and petitioned for better information about the dangers of tombstoning.
Libby wrote: “The current sign is A5 size and loads of people jump so it doesn’t seem dangerous!
“I would like to add a sign that shows the danger and that shows it can happen to anyone! I think a more up to date, larger and more personalised sign would really help prevention!”
Many TikTok users were moved by her story and thanked Libby for sharing it.
One commented: “It’s very sad as people have died jumping in this spot [sad faced emoji] Awareness is needed. The small signs they have aren’t enough.”
Libby posted another video about the life-changing leap captioned “12 months” and showing her slow recovery.
The clip is a montage of photos she took in hospital, sweet footage of her dog pulling her along in a wheelchair and pictures of staples in her back.
The video ends with her running freely again with a smile on her face.
She spoke about how her dog Sahara has been one of her main motivations for getting better.
Libby said: “I’m a year on now, I still feel pain but I was able to walk again and through determination. I’ve managed to get back to doing a lot of things I could before though I’m limited.
“My friends have been incredibly supportive, I couldn’t get through it without my friends and family.
“I live with my dog Sahara, a rescue dog from Portugal, she’s helped incredible amounts during my recovery as well.
“I take her out walking and that’s been my main motivation – to get back to walking and playing with her.”
Libby was rushed to hospital for six-hour surgery to save her spineCredit: Kennedy News
Her friends filmed the moment that would ‘change her life entirely’Credit: Kennedy News
Libby said her rescue dog Sahara has been her motivation to get betterCredit: Kennedy News