Massachusetts

‘So Heartbreaking': Mom Suffers Brain Injury During Family Trip to Puerto Rico

Beth Callahan, of Arlington, Massachusetts, had just left her job at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center to take a break from the coronavirus pandemic. So her family headed to Puerto Rico but things took a tragic turn

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An Arlington, Massachusetts, mother is recovering from a serious brain injury after a tragic fall while on a family trip in Puerto Rico. Beth Callahan had just left her job at Lahey Hospital and Medical Center to take a break from the coronavirus pandemic and was on her first vacation when she fell.

“For this to happen to her, when she was taking the only moment throughout the pandemic for herself, is so heartbreaking,” her sister Sarah Nethercote Hart said.

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Nethercote Hart said she got the call last week that Beth had fallen while hiking with her husband and eight-year-old twins in El Yunque National Rainforest. Tourists often jump from waterfalls into pools at the bottom and on one of them, Beth fell and hit her head.

“This woman is scared of heights. It’s not something that she would normally do. She got to the edge and needed a little encouragement so people down below were clapping and cheering for her to do it. She got to the edge, lost her footing and slipped,” Nethercote Hart said.

Luckily, Dr. Kris Knopp, an ER doctor from Chicago, was there. He was part of a group that helped keep Beth breathing for close to three hours as paramedics arrived and together they carried her out.

“That was the hardest part was trying to carry her with six people around the stretcher, going downhill on slippery rocks out the way we had come in to get her back to the ambulance,” Knopp said.

Knopp had just jumped from the same cliff Beth did minutes before and was also on vacation to escape the pandemic.

“It really hit close to home that it could happen to anyone. I’m just so glad she survived,” Knopp said.

Nethercote Hart credits Knopp and the others with helping save her sister’s life.

“It was really a godsend that he was there,” she said.

Nethercote Hart is focused on raising money for Beth’s care and grateful to everyone for the support. She said her sister has a long road ahead, but gave a thumbs-up the other day from her hospital bed.

“She is just so caring and so lovely," she said of her sister, "and I know she would be doing this for me if the role was reversed."

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