Family of boy, 15, left in ‘vegetative state’ after jumping off pier and landing face-first on water reveal heartbreaking images of him in hospital before he goes home to die

By Isaac Crowson

11:19 09 Jul 2024, updated 15:09 09 Jul 2024

  • Jack Dolan, 15, was left in a ‘vegetative state’ after the stunt went wrong
  • Stepfather Dave said: ‘We will never see that smile or hear the laugh again’

Heartbreaking photos show a schoolboy lying in a ‘vegetative state’ in hospital after flipping off a pier and landing face first on the water.

Jack Dolan, 15, was left with ‘no quality of life’ and cannot move, speak or laugh after the tragic accident on June 23.

The teenager, who had attempted the jump from Margate Pier in front of his friends and girlfriend, ‘overspun’ and landed ‘face first on the water’.

Jack spent eight minutes under the water before he was pulled out by a passing kayaker. But by that time, he had gone into cardiac arrest.

He was then airlifted to King’s College Hospital in London where MRI scans showed he had severe brain damage.

The aspiring Royal Marine had ‘so much to live for’, but is now in a ‘vegetative state’ with a life expectancy of up to two years, his heartbroken family told MailOnline.

His stepfather, Dave Dolan, said: ‘It’s been our worst nightmare. We’re heartbroken. It’s sickening. He’s alive but it’s like he’s not there. He was my best mate. We cannot explain how cruel all of this is.’

Jack Dolan’s heartbroken family have released pictures of their son lying in a hospital bed in a ‘vegetative state’ after his pier-jumping accident at Stone Pier, in Margate, Kent on June 23
Jack with his mother Lisa before the tragic accident off Margate Pier last month
Heartbroken stepfather Dave Dolan, 35, pictured with his head in his hands, has kept a bedside vigil since the 15-year-old was seriously injured
It was the first time the 15-year-old schoolboy had gone to the beach without his parents
He had done the move dozens of times before, most recently on holiday in Egypt in September (pictured), but this time he landed face first on the water

Dave, 35, kept a bedside vigil for Jack, and in one heartbreaking image is pictured with his head in his hands on the bed next to the prone schoolboy, surrounded by wires and tubes, while two members of hospital staff look at monitors.

He added: ‘I’ve been by his side since the start, holding his hand.’

Jack’s family have launched a major fundraising campaign to equip a new home with the specialist equipment he needs so he can return there to die. They believe at best he has two years to live.

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It was the first time Jack had gone to the beach at Stone Pier in Margate, Kent without his mother and father, as they were protective of him as he had ADHD and was liable to act without thinking.

The Howard School pupil, in Medway, was with four or five friends and his girlfriend on the day.

The teen most likely didn’t realize how high the pier was, was knocked unconscious and then drowned, although he wasn’t in the water long before being pulled out.

He had vast experience of the move which ended in tragedy, and had done it dozens of times before. Most recently on holiday in Egypt in September.

The accident left him brain dead. His brain stem shows signs of activity and he can breathe for himself but the rest of his brain is severely damaged and he will not recover.

They believe the ‘kind and caring’ thing for Jack now is to let him die in peace at home.

Stepfather Dave said: ‘We cannot even begin to understand how this has happened. He was so fit and active. His life was movement and being out and active.

Jack had travelled to the popular Kent seaside town with friends, and they went to this pier to enjoy the sunshine

Signs in the area warn against jumping from the pier – but youngsters congregate at the area every weekend in the summer, and jump into the sea with friends
The accident left Jack brain dead. His brain stem shows signs of activity and he can breathe for himself but the rest of his brain is severely damaged
Now his stepdad Dave Dolan and mum Lisa (pictured) are desperately fundraising to move house so they can take Jack out of hospital and care for him themselves at home until he dies

‘He wanted to be in the Royal Marines. He was not an academic kid but he was so active and loved the outdoors and improving himself.

‘Our lives have turned upside down because of this. It has shattered us. He’s like a newborn baby. He can’t move.

‘There’s a heartbeat and that is it. There’s no eye contact. He cannot speak.

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‘His smile was one of his greatest assets and he does not have that now. There’s nothing. He had a bright, beaming smile but now that’s not there.

‘It’s horrific. I cannot explain how cruel it is to see and deal with.

‘He will never get it back. We will never see that smile or hear the laugh again. It’s devastating.’

Dave raised Jack as his own son and said he believed he misjudged the move and landed face first on the water.

He added: ‘It was something he loved doing. He had done it so many times before.’

Now £15,000 has been raised to set up a new home with the appropriate equipment where he can return after being in hospital.

An online fund-raising page has been set up which has received donations from over 600 supporters.

His mother Lisa and his two sisters, aged eight and ten, are grateful for all the help received.

Dave added: ‘It’s a great response. We are very grateful. It will mean a new home can be acquired and fitted to give him something.

‘At the moment he is in a hospital ward with other people. It’s torturous.’

A tragic last picture shows Jack smiling with a friend as he arrives at Margate Station, just half an hour before the accident
The family (pictured together) – including Jack’s sisters Faith, ten, and Grace, eight – are currently in council accommodation and are hoping they can be moved to a suitable home

Dave said any money left over from the fundraising would go towards other youngsters in similar conditions.

He said it was difficult to put a life expectancy on how long Jack would survive in his current state.

He added: ‘It’s no life for him. It’s just horrible to see.

‘We think two years or so. In that time we will make all possible adjustments to make things as comfortable.

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‘I want to look after Jack and obviously the family as well.

‘We’ve all been through hell.’

The construction manager added: ‘He had so much to live for. He had a bright and amazing future.’

Dave, who lives in Rainham, Kent, said he was proud of Jack’s friends for their actions following the horrifying accident.

One rank 999 while his girlfriend immediately contacted Jack’s mum, who rushed to the popular beach resort.

The teenager was treated by paramedics before being taken to King’s College Hospital by air ambulance, but MRI scans show his brain is beyond repair. When doctors withdrew his life support, amazingly the youngster breathed for himself, but that is about as much as his body can do.

Doctors are unsure whether he will live for weeks or even years but he will need round-the-clock care, something the Dolans cannot provide for him in their current flat.

The family are currently in council accommodation and are hoping they can be moved to a house suitable for Jack as soon as possible.

If they can find a new home they will need to complete renovations quickly to make it able to cope with Jack and the mass of equipment he will need.

Sam Cass, who organised the crowdfunder for Jack, described him as ‘the biggest joker, with a heart of gold.’

He added: ‘He loves to show off in front of girls and won’t leave the house without doing his hair.

‘He loves his family, will do anything for his sisters and this fundraiser is to take a little bit of the burden away from them.

‘Many people love Jack and I’m sure they all wish the family wasn’t going through this right now.’