Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

Helicopter rescue saves six boys on freezing mountain top

Six boys had to be airlifted to safety in Co Antrim last night after getting lost in poor weather.

The boys, aged between 10 and 12-years-old, became stranded on the snow-capped Knocklayde mountain close to Ballycastle yesterday evening.

It is understood the youngsters, who were on mid-term break from school, had hoped to reach the peak of the mountain but became disorientated when mist and rain set in.

A dramatic rescue operation, involving PSNI search teams, a police helicopter and paramedics was launched at about 4pm after the boys contacted the emergency services using a mobile telephone.

Sergeant Lorraine Conor, who co-ordinated the search, said the boys, who were all from Ballycastle, were not adequately dressed or equipped for their adventure.

“It was mid-term and they decided to walk to the top of the mountain. There is a lot of snow at the top and I think that was probably part of the attraction.

“They started to panic when then saw the rain starting and saw the mist coming in and they phoned police saying they were lost.

“When they set out at lunchtime the weather was good in Ballycastle, the sun was shining but unfortunately it started to rain at about 4pm and the mist started coming in.

“Thankfully they had the sense to phone police when they did because if they had left it much longer then the visibility would have been a problem as it would have been dark.

“They were not dressed adequately for the conditions, they did not have a map or walking equipment with them. They were able to maintain contact with our control room which liaised with the helicopter,” she told the Belfast Telegraph.

The whole rescue operation lasted for about two hours.

“The boys were relieved to be down again. They were a bit wet, cold and frightened but it could have been worse.

“It is not sensible to set off without adequate equipment. They would need a hot drink and possibly some hot food, walking boots and children of that age would need an adult. They were really disorientated and lost.”

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