I came up and I couldn’t feel my legs and thought I was paralysed.
A young, elite diver has undergone surgery at Epworth Richmond for significant leg and ankle fractures, after jumping from a cliff at Mt Martha, on the Mornington Peninsula.

12 year-old Sarah Jacka broke her legs and an ankle when she landed in shallow water, after doing a ‘pin drop’ on New Year’s Day.

Sarah initially thought her injuries were much worse.

“The way I am taught to dive means I go through the water a lot faster and my knees were bent back when I landed,” Sarah said.

“I came up and I couldn’t feel my legs and thought I was paralysed.”

Her father Chris was watching from a boat nearby.

“About 30 people had jumped ahead of Sarah and she did a nice simple pin drop entry, but when she emerged, she was yelling in agony,” Chris said.

“When I reached her, she said she couldn’t feel her toes and legs and my mind raced to the worst possible outcome. She’s got broken bones, but we consider ourselves lucky.  It could’ve been far worse.”

Surgery was delayed until swelling in Sarah’s legs had reduced. 

Sarah underwent a two hour operation, led by paediatric orthopaedic surgeon Dr Lucas Annabell.

“Sarah has fractures to her knees through the growth plate that require bracing,” Dr Annabell said.

“Her right ankle was fractured in three places which has been repaired. She won’t be able to walk on her right leg for six weeks and she will be out of sport for up to four months.”

Dr Annabell said he regularly treats children who have been injured jumping from a height.

“Far too often, we see many instances of children jumping from high heights resulting in injuries like this. Just because someone else is doing it, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.”

Sarah’s dad urges other people not to jump from the same spot.

“Don’t do it. Depths and water change, it’s not worth the risk,” Mr Jacka said.

Sarah faces months of rehabilitation and hopes to return to diving later this year.

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