'Jump or die': Man leaps from burning building and shatters both ankles

Eric Hewson jumped out of a burning building to save his own life, it resulted in him shattering both his ankles. 

Eric Hewson jumped out of a burning building to save his own life - it resulted in him shattering both his ankles. - Credit: Eric Hewson

A 30-year-old man is living in agony after jumping for his life from the second-storey window of a blazing building. 

But despite suffering two shattered ankles Eric Hewson was told he would have to wait two years for an operation to get him back on his feet. 

Mr Hewson woke in the middle of the night in July 2020 to find his home in Poringland ablaze and the exits blocked by "roaring flames". 

He said: "I called the fire brigade and waited but the blaze was spreading so quickly.

"I started contemplating jumping out of the window even though I knew I would sustain serious injuries.

Eric Hewson spent two months in hospital following his jump from the second storey of his building. 

Eric Hewson spent two months in hospital following his jump from the second storey of his building. - Credit: Eric Hewson

“But then I realised the skin on my arm was beginning to burn. I knew that I could not wait any longer.

"I realised I needed to jump or I would die. 

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“It was pure survival instinct at this point - I wasn’t thinking much. I just didn’t want to die in the flames.” 

He added that he didn't feel any pain until the next day despite the injuries he sustained that night having fallen on to concrete. 

They included one broken ankle and heel, one shattered ankle, a broken tibia and a dislocated arm.

He spent two months in hospital recovering but was told he would need a further surgery on his right ankle before he would be able to use it normally again. 

He explained: “The cartilage in my right foot has collapsed - I have nothing left to support my foot and ankle.”

However despite the incident happening 18 months ago Mr Hewson is still waiting for a call about his major surgery.

Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital's (NNUH) chief of surgery and emergency care, Dr Tim Leary, said: “I can confirm that we are in discussion with Mr Hewson.

"We apologise for the continued discomfort and stress that Mr Hewson is experiencing.

“The pandemic has had a profound effect on our waiting lists and our staff are working very hard to address this.

"We continue to maintain a programme of planned procedures and operations and we are prioritising cancer, most urgent and our longest waiting patients.”

As he recovers, Mr Hewson has never been able to return home.

After his discharge, Eric spent lots of time in rehabilitation.

After his discharge, Eric spent lots of time in rehabilitation, but the injuries he sustained are far to extensive and now need operating on. - Credit: Eric Hewson

He said: “I lost everything that day, I couldn’t face going to see all my belongings turned into charcoal.” 

Since this time Mr Hewson has been diagnosed with PTSD and often has flashbacks and nightmares about his ordeal.  

He said: “The worsening pain serves as a constant reminder of the incident.”  

The founder of city-based Norwich Homeless Support, before the accident Mr Hewson was always very active doing vital work and getting people into safe housing. 

But since jumping from the window of his home this work has had to be put on the back-burner.

The months have been continuously getting worse and now Mr Hewson can barely leave his house.  

He said: “The hospital originally said that the operation I need could be a two year wait but with Covid pushing everything back I simply cannot wait any longer.” 

Eric sustained serious injuries following his jump that he never recovered from. 

Eric sustained serious injuries following his jump that he never recovered from. - Credit: Eric Hewson

As such he has decided to try and raise the funds to get the operation done privately so that he can be out of pain sooner rather than later. 

And so a friend set up a Go Fund Me to raise the money in order to get him back on his feet. 

Mr Hewson requires a hindfoot operation which would see the joints in his ankle screwed back together. 

He has estimated that getting the surgery done at a private clinic will cost in the region of £8,500. 

So far £390 has already been raised for the homeless organisation founder. 

The organiser of the Go Fund Me, Matthew Smith, wrote on the page: "Eric’s work providing much needed support for the homeless can’t be done sitting down.

"He is passionate about his mission, preferring to stand up, roll up his sleeves and get stuck in."

His Go Fund Me can be found at www.gofundme.com/f/help-eric-get-the-surgery-he-needs.