Real Life

Teen’s second chance at life

Seventeen-year-old Jarrod Monkley was in a dark place when he fell off a nine-storey building – but his incredible survival has changed him
Teen's second chance at life

By all accounts, Auckland teenager Jarrod Monkley shouldn’t be alive – he broke and fractured at least 30 bones in his body when he plunged nine storeys off an inner-city high-rise building and no-one thought he would survive. When the 16-year-old’s broken body was found after his fall, those who rushed to his aid placed jackets over what they believed to be his dead body.

Miraculously, Jarrod survived, and three months later most of his broken bones have healed. He broke his arm, elbow, shoulder blade, two fingers, all his ribs and his neck. He suffered two collapsed lungs, a brain injury and a ruptured spleen, which was later removed. Both Jarrod’s ankles were shattered in the fall and while he currently needs a wheelchair to get around, he is –incredibly – expected to walk again.

Now 17, Jarrod is looking forward to a new life and prefers not to dwell on his feelings in the lead up to his fall from a new Auckland University of Technology building. He has no recollection of falling from the 12th floor to the third, but remembers he was in a dark place for a month beforehand.

He had to leave school after being accused of disruptive behaviour in class and was getting into a few fights during his time there. Jarrod got a job the next day with his father’s employer, installing insulation in buildings’ air-conditioning ducts. He had been working on the new AUT building for a month when he was seen falling from the 12th floor.

Jarrod and mum Zena are positive about his future.

His mother, Zena Campbell, believes her son’s mental health suffered when he experimented with the synthetic cannabis substitute Kronic a year ago, before also smoking marijuana. During that time, he was drinking a lot and dwelling on how much he missed his friends, the school ball and his role as captain of the rugby team.

“It happened too suddenly,” Jarrod says. “I got told the day before that today would be my last day at school. I was quite shocked about it because it was the last thing I was expecting.”

Jarrod still had a lot to look forward to – he was about to represent Counties Manukau in cricket, had a loving girlfriend and was enjoying his new job – but Zena feels drinking and drugs played a big part in some of her son’s problems.

“A year earlier, when he’d been on the Kronic, we saw a lot of depression then,” she recalls. “His moods were very erratic. He was dealing with being pulled out of school, drinking and smoking dope.”

“A lot of little things were building up,” Jarrod adds. “On the Monday morning, I was working on level three and went up to level 12. I don’t remember walking up, but I remember getting my stuff ready and cleaning up after myself.”

The third-floor roof that he landed on was made of concrete, but there were planks of wood lying there. Jarrod was later told this helped cushion his fall and reduce his injuries.

Although Jarrod was revived on the way to Auckland Hospital, Zena and Jarrod’s father Kayne Monkley were warned their son would likely die because of his terrible injuries. But Jarrod clung to life, responding to his parents’ voices while in an induced coma. He spent three weeks in hospital and a further eight in rehabilitation.

Jarrod is now back at home and has had ramps installed for his wheelchair. He will be able to attempt to use crutches later this month and doctors are confident he will walk again, but a full recovery may take another year.

Although Jarrod is positive about the future, he\’s left with a reminder of the past – scars on his side where he hit the scaffolding on the way down.

Looking back, Jarrod can’t believe he is the same guy now that he was three months ago. His eyes light up when he speaks of how pleased he is to have survived such serious injuries. “All I can think of is ‘Why?’” he says. “I didn’t think I could do something like that.”

Jarrod’s girlfriend has stood by him during the crisis and he’s thankful for the support of all his friends from school, sports clubs and, most of all, his family.

Since Jarrod began his recovery, he now has hope for the future – making a return to playing rugby and cricket is Jarrod’s main goal. He also believes that he survived for a reason and is waiting for that to unfold. “That can’t have happened for nothing,” he says.

One change he’s made is talking about his problems. “I didn’t even talk to my friends. I used to keep it all in,” says Jarrod, who’s been having ongoing counselling. “I can pretty much promise that nothing like this is going to happen again. “From now on, if I have a problem, I’m going to talk about it.”

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