Belfast Telegraph

Ski crash schoolboy flies back to Belfast
Teenager needs further surgery

By Brian Hutton
05 March 2005

A Northern Ireland schoolboy battling to recover from horrific injuries after a skiing accident has been moved from an Austrian hospital to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

Joe McLaughlin (17), from the Corrigs Avenue area of Newcastle, was on a school trip in the Alpine resort of Ehrwald when he collided with a snow machine on a ski slope, a month ago.

The teenager was rushed to hospital in Innsbruck where he was put on a life support machine and needed 15 hours of emergency surgery.

The A-level student, at St Malachy's High School in Castlewellan, was one of around 30 students and staff who were due to return from Austria the following day.

After almost four weeks of intensive medical treatment in Austria the schoolboy was flown by air ambulance this week to the City Airport in Belfast, and taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital.

His mother, Angela, and aunt, Gemma, who kept a bedside vigil in Innsbruck, took an earlier flight to be in Belfast for his arrival.

Tests are being carried out on his legs, while preparations are also being made for cosmetic work to his mouth, as Joe lost a number of teeth in the smash.

Joe's grandfather, Frank McLaughlin, praised his grandson for bravely battling his injuries.

"He's a fighter. I've been with him when the pain comes but he's coping fairly well," he said.

"He's in fairly good form and he's really surprised us by how much he's come on.

"The doctors told us there was no brain damage but they don't know how.

"Usually in such an accident there would be, so he's lucky in that sense."

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