Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 19 April 2014

Anger as helicopters diverted to rescue 'idiotic' climbers

Man winched to safety on Benevenagh mountain by Irish Air Corps helicopter. Picture by Donna Deeney

Two men who had to be rescued from a snow-covered mountain near Limavady have been described as "completely idiotic".

Two police rescue teams, an Irish Army helicopter and the North West Mountain Rescue team had to be diverted to Benevenagh Mountain after the two got stuck while climbing a snow gully.

An Irish Coastguard helicopter was also involved in the rescue.

Limavady councillor and farmer Edwin Stevenson says the men should be billed for the cost of diverting the resources from taking animal food relief to farmers because of the adverse weather conditions.

The pair were winched off the sheer mountain face uninjured.

A PSNI Search and Rescue team had to be transported from Belfast City Airport by an Irish Army Air Corps helicopter which had been involved in taking animal food relief to farmers.

A second team of three PSNI Search and Rescue members were picked up at Newcastle, where they were training, and also transported to the scene by an Irish Coastguard helicopter to provide additional resources.

The North West Mountain Rescue team was also tasked and provided Land Rover support to the mountain.

The two climbers were handed over to it uninjured and returned to their car for their return journey home.

Mr Stevenson said the pair should pay for the cost of the operation on Thursday afternoon.

He said: "I am at an absolute loss as to why anyone would decide to climb Benevenagh in these conditions and can only describe the actions of these two men as completely idiotic.

"I went out on Thursday morning and found 12 of my lambs had died in the snow and cold.

"These are about the worst weather conditions that I can remember, but these two young men thought it would be a good idea to climb a snow-covered mountain.

"Unsurprisingly, they got stuck and thankfully they suffered no harm or injury, but their foolhardy actions meant that (rescue teams) had to be deployed away from what they were doing.

"Their actions put the safety of those men at risk, to say nothing of the cost of this operation.

"Perhaps it is about time the Executive looked at billing people who carelessly risk not just their own lives, but also the lives of the emergency services who invariably end up having to dedicate time and energy rescuing them.

"I am not talking about people who through no fault of their own find themselves in difficulty, but only a lunatic would have set off up Benevenagh Mountain in this atrocious weather."

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