Belfast Telegraph

Hillwalker airlifted to hospital after 20 to 40 metre Mourne mountains fall

By Jonathan Bell

Two men had to be airlifted to hospital after falling on the Mourne Mountains.

One of the men is thought to have fallen between 20 and 40 metres in the incident on Saturday.

The two men, aged in their 20s, were out walking with two others when they fell during the descent of Slieve Bearnagh. One of the men fell and as the other went to check on him, he too lost his balance.

Mourne Mountain Rescue were called.

The first man was found "well below" where he fell and given the severity of his injuries he was airlifted to hospital. The second man fell while trying to see if his friend was all right. His injuries were initially thought not to be serious, however, his condition deteriorated and he suffered a lot of hip pain and another helicopter was called to rush him to hospital.

Both men are thought to be doing ok in hospital and expected to make a full recovery.

Mourne Mountain Rescue coordinator Neville Watson was one of those taking part in the rescue.

He told the Belfast Telegraph: "They were coming down a place known as the Bearnagh slabs which is more commonly popular with mountain climbers when they found themselves out of their comfort zone - as anyone can. Conditions can change very quickly and anyone can have a slip or trip and on this terrain the consequences can be much worse than if you fell in your back garden say."

He added: "In this the cloud level was low and visibility poor. We think the first man fell between 20 and 40 metres and he was quite battered when we got to him. We always advise people to err on the side of caution but accidents happen, there is always a degree of misfortune and bad luck and that appears to be the case here.

Mourne Mountain Rescue is fully staffed by volunteers and the service relies on fundraising to keep going.

Neville added: "We have a great relationship not just with the hill walking community but also with the local community. In this instance we needed a farmer's field for the helicopter to land.

"But while we give up our time freely, and we do have people from all walks of life working with us, the fuel and equipment and supplies need constantly replenished and there is a constant fundraising drive for it."

"Any Saturday thousands would be on mountains and there is a real health benefit. Accidents are small in number, but when they happen we are there. Obviously we don't want things to go wrong but when they do we are there."

To support Mourne Mountain Rescue, visit its Just Giving page.

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