I didn’t hold back: Chloe's warning a matter of life and death

DON'T DO IT: Chloe Berryman, 23,  wants to talk to young people about avoiding risk-taking behaviour while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Photos: STEVE GOSCH 0825chloe

DON'T DO IT: Chloe Berryman, 23, wants to talk to young people about avoiding risk-taking behaviour while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Photos: STEVE GOSCH 0825chloe

CHLOE Berryman is keen to tell her story to as many young people who will listen, about how her reckless behaviour under the influence of alcohol almost led to her death and left her in a wheelchair.

Ms Berryman, 23, recently told her story to high school students who visited Orange Health Service to see trauma first-hand in an education program aimed at reducing death and injuries in young people indulging in risk taking behaviour.

“I didn’t hold back.

“I told them everything about the night I was so badly injured and what happened after - I could see some of them were crying,” she said.

Telling her story to a group of teenagers was difficult.

“I didn’t realise when I went back to tell my story it would be so hard, but I just wanted them to know what can happen when you make bad mistakes,” she said.

Ms Berryman says she takes full responsibility for her behaviour on the night of New Year’s Eve 2007 when under the influence of alcohol she walked on the railing of a two-story building in Molong, and lost her footing falling seven metres to the ground below.

Her injuries were horrific including a fractured spine and skull and multiple fractures leaving the teenager in a critical condition.

From the time of her fall and in the weeks that followed in intensive care in a Sydney hospital Ms Berryman says she “died several times”.

“I did some really stupid things when I was younger including getting pregnant when I was 17 and absolutely wasted on marijuana,” she said.

The young woman has also taken to the internet creating her own YouTube channel to spread her message to young people about responsible behaviour.

Today Ms Berryman lives in a specially modified unit and receives support on a daily basis to help her with basic tasks.

However she says with the full use of one hand and partial use of the other she is able to use her computer and return to painting and drawing which she loved as a child.

“But getting to this point has been like teaching a toddler.

“With my spine and brain injury I had to learn to breathe on my own, speak again, eat and drink.”

Ms Berryman said her recent experience speaking to students at Orange hospital as part of a Royal North Shore and Orange hospital run program is something she would like to repeat.

“I will do anything to go and talk to young people in schools to stop someone else being in this same situation as me,” she said.

Ms Berryman’s YouTube channel is www.youtube.com/clostar121 and go to the name Clover Rose.

janice.harris@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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