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THE partner of the Irish doctor killed in a 300metre mountain fall has told how his bravery saved her life.

Helen McClements, 26, slipped on the icy slopes of New Zealand's Mount Aspiring but miraculously survived after 29-year-old Dr Donal Deery leapt to her aid.

Helen was seriously injured after landing on a ledge but Donal, from Ligoniel, North Belfast, died instantly.

Speaking from her hospital bed last night in Dunedin, in New Zealand's South Island, Helen revealed how his quick thinking protected her.

Helen, from Bangor, Co Down, said: "I'm so proud of Donal. He saved me. He basically rugby tackled me to try and stop me going over the edge.

"Then we fell. I was just thinking of my family and saying, 'I'm going to die. I don't want to die'.

"And then I realised I had landed. I was dazed, confused and in pain, but I was alive.

"Donal's bag was next to me but he had landed further away. I didn't know then he was dead.

"The couple we had been with the night before tried to resuscitate him for 45 minutes."

Efforts to recover Donal's body from a ravine have so far been hampered by bad weather.

Helen added: "I don't know when they will bring him out.

"I'm heartbroken, but at the same time I feel so blessed to have met somebody like him.

"What's hard is the thought of going home and starting again. But I've got this new chance at life that was so nearly snatched away."

The Daily Mirror has made a donation to the Alpine Research Society
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Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 17, 2005
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