Page last updated at 14:22 GMT, Friday, 6 March 2009

Husband fell off river bank twice

Mary and George Stastny
Mary Stastny had to break into her friend's house to call an ambulance

A woman who dragged her husband to safety after he fell off a steep river bank was horrified to see the dazed man stand up and plunge back over the edge.

George Stastny was walking with his wife Mary near their County Durham home when he tripped and fell 20ft, breaking his nose and injuring his back.

She pulled him to the top, where he passed out, but as she went for help he stood up, fainted, and fell off again.

The 66-year-old was checked at hospital, but was not badly hurt.

The couple were walking in the Teesdale Valley, close to their home in Whorlton, near Barnard Castle, on Sunday when Mr Stastny tripped.

I keep telling George that to fall off a cliff once is unfortunate, to fall off a cliff twice is just ridiculous
Mary Stastny

His fall was broken by trees, and he managed to remain conscious while his wife helped him back to the footpath.

But after her husband passed out, Mrs Stastny had to leave him to raise the alarm.

She said: "As I was leaving, I was terrified he would fall down again. I just went for help and he shouted that he was coming round.

"I turned around to see him stand up and to my horror, he fell down again. He fell right down the cliff to where he was before."

George Stastny
Mr Stastny's fall over the cliff was broken by trees

Unable to move him a second time, Mrs Stastny ran to a friend's house, but found no-one was home.

So she used a broomstick to smash a window, and climbed inside to call an ambulance.

In the meantime, her husband had regained consciousness and made his way to his mother-in-law's house.

Mrs Stastny said: "Once we knew everything was OK, we could laugh about it. I keep telling George that to fall off a cliff once is unfortunate, to fall off a cliff twice is just ridiculous."

But the couple's luck got even worse when police visited the next day to inform Mrs Stastny they were investigating her on suspicion of burglary.

She said: "They went to my friend's house to see if they wanted to press charges for my breaking and entering. Thankfully they said no.

"The police did apologise, but they were only doing their job and the emergency services were fantastic."

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