In paradise I think one is prone to adopt a flavor of carefree living. A lot is forgotten including our own human-ness and fraility as humans.
Ben is 18, he is from England. I doubt he ever thought that in this paradise he would have to confront that fraility.
But there I was, watching him bleed out of his cracked skull… It had started as such a perfect day, Saturday night in the bar turned to Sunday morning and a few of us decided the beach for sunrise would be the perfect thing. 6 of us drunk on 2 motor bikes (It’s OK… it’s the norm here).
After a swim as the sun rose and a small downfall of rain it was on to Lamuan Seafood for some breakfast and Kirin and Tommy on the guitar. Ben, Mao, Dawee and myself singing along or meditatively captivated in our thoughts while listening.
We had all planned to go out to the waterfall and were slowy making our way out there with different groups in tow. Finally getting there I took to photographing the falls and the area and the people having fun. After half an hour of shooting I figured it was time for a dip. The water was rainfall that had collected from the mountain upstream and was surprisingly cold but I swam with and against the current in this pool close to the top of the impressive 4 tier waterfall. Before too long I got too cold to stay in and was making my way along the lip of the pool when I noticed Kirin in a “flying elbow” leap from the point I had almost jumped from back on Songkran but was warned by the police over loudspeaker not to jump.
The jump itself is a pretty hairy one actually. The height well exceeds 20′ which isn’t much (that’s about the same height as the I.B. pier I used to jump off back in the day). However there are two things which complicate this jump: the first is the downward sloping takeoff point, the second is the rocks which stick out about 7′ into the water.
Kirin’s jump was not very pretty, I could not see his landing from my viewpoint two tiers above the takeoff, but figured his landing wasn’t pretty either. I did see him swim out so I knew he made it.
Ben ran towards the edge, his last step was one of hesitation, and as he slipped I knew he wasn’t going to clear the rocks he needed to. I couldn’t see what happened on his way down so I looked at Kirin who was wide eyed and already bolting across the water in the big pool at the bottom. I knew it was bad…
I ran as fast as I could over to the path and down the hill to help. As I was running down I looked through the bamboo and jungle plants, and I could see Ben’s body floating in a pool of blood in Kirin’s arm as he swam Ben in.
Kirin and some local people had gotten him to a somewhat flat area amongst all the rocks in the riverbed and Stuart, a dive master, who had instinctively ran down after me, came down and began administering first aid to him. I asked for a towel from the Thai people gathering around and covered him to keep him warm and made sure he could feel his toes.
He was lucid and wasn’t experiencing a lot of pain. He was more pissed off at himself that he did something stupid.The ambulance got there nearly half an hour after the call was placed and he was taken to one hospital while everyone was taken back to the volunteer center.
I later heard that he was taken to another hospital and then to Phuket, that he went into a coma for 10 minutes and stopped breathing, his father came from England.
Surprisingly enough 2 days later he was up and walking around as if nothing happened. It was a huge relief when he made it back to Khao Lak smiling and alive and happy to be back.
He was very excited when I told him that I had a shot of the back of his head before he rearranged it. He insisted that he got a copy of the photo for himself.