Mountain rescuer plunges 500ft trying to rescue two men breaching lockdown rules

A mountain rescue volunteer has been left with "life-changing" injuries after falling 500ft during a rescue mission in the Lake District.

The 60-year-old volunteer fell in the early hours of Saturday (February 6) after being called out to the Red Screes, above Kirkstone Pass, to rescue two men breaking lockdown to go camping.

One of them had issued a health alert after experiencing chest pains.

But the elderly member of the rescue team suffered serious injuries himself after falling and is now being treated in hospital, according to the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association (LDSMRA).

Cumbria Police told the Liverpool Echo that the two men who were illegally camping have each been fined £200 for breaching Covid lockdown restrictions.

The injured rescuer, from Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team, was airlifted to hospital by a HM Coastguard helicopter.

The camper who had complained of chest pains was taken to hospital by road by the North West Ambulance Service.

Mike Blakey, operational lead for the 12 rescue teams of the Lake District and a Patterdale team member, told the Echo: "I cannot stress enough the message to stay at home during lockdown.

"This rescue, and the subsequent life-changing injuries incurred by our team member, were avoidable.

"Rescue team members are volunteers who train extensively to rescue others in the most atrocious weathers and in inhospitable places.

"However the risks are always there and the impact of an incident like this is far-reaching across the rescue and emergency services family.

"On behalf of the casualty's family I would like to formally thank everyone involved in the rescue of our team member, including the medics and helicopter crew, and the amazing support he has received so far since being admitted to hospital. Of course our priority now is to support him and his family."

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A statement from LDSMRA said: "No-one sets out on the fells with the intention of having an accident and our thoughts are also with the original caller who became ill whilst camping on the fells.

"However, the simple truth is that the more people who are out walking in the Lakeland fells, the higher the chances that our mountain rescue team will be called out.

"Rescues are much more challenging during the coronavirus pandemic; our team members need to operate in PPE, and many of our volunteers also have full time jobs as key workers in the NHS and other essential services."

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