Miracle acrobat fit enough to graduate

By Michael Dickison

Mikaela Blayney, 20, an acrobatic abseiler who fell from a building in Aotea Square in Auckland.
Photo / Steven McNicholl
Mikaela Blayney, 20, an acrobatic abseiler who fell from a building in Aotea Square in Auckland. Photo / Steven McNicholl

The colleagues who watched her fall are getting counselling - but acrobatic abseiler Mikaela Blayney needed only some Panadol yesterday as she graduated from AUT.

Miss Blayney plunged 20m from the top of the Metro Centre building in Aotea Square last week when an acrobatics show went wrong - but miraculously survived with only minor damage to the bones in her face and foot.

"I'm just thinking there must be a reason behind it, so I have to work it out now," she said.

Miss Blayney was at the end of three years of studies in occupational therapy at AUT when the accident happened.

It had only been a week since the fall, but she had recovered enough to participate in the graduation procession and received her bachelor's degree at the Civic Theatre.

She said that through her studies she had become used to being the one applying bandages, and it was strange to be on the receiving end.

Her latest diagnoses are that she will not need any surgery, but she will check in again at the hospital in two weeks.

She is in a wheelchair for now but feels little pain and takes Panadol for relief.

The other members of the acrobatics troupe were the ones feeling the stress, she said.

"Everyone else is getting adrenalin rushes and flashbacks from just watching me. They're getting trauma counselling. It was a horrible experience for them," Miss Blayney said.

"I don't really remember anything, so I'm all good."

Without any memory of the fall, she said she remembered the show only as "fun".

When she came to after the fall, Miss Blayney was being carried to hospital with a neck brace. She feared she could be paralysed, but her assessments dramatically improved by the time she arrived at the hospital.

The incident is still being investigated but it appears that the rope she was abseiling on had not been fully attached - and her fall was cushioned when a rigger at the top of the building grabbed her rope as best he could.

"I'm totally grateful to him. How do you thank someone for that?

"He just felt the noise go different," Miss Blayney said.

"It was a series of unfortunate events. But I'm alive and kicking."

Her graduation procession went up Queen St to within a block of Aotea Square, and Miss Blayney said it had been a funny feeling seeing the Metro Centre again.

She was not yet sure of her future plans - she loved performing and would like to continue, but also was interested in pursuing occupational therapy.

Despite her extraordinary circumstances, her feelings were similar to all the new graduates - a little bit scared of what might lie ahead. But her immediate plans are clear: "Rest up".

- NZ Herald

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