Greenside Mines, scene of the rescue. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Greenside Mines, scene of the rescue. Photo: Bob Smith/grough

Rescuers had to contend with an abusive drunk casualty who was found near England’s third-highest mountain in a five-hour night-time operation.

The 32-year-old man from north-east England was reported missing in the Greenside Mines area on the slopes of Helvellyn at the weekend.

Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team was called out at 3am on Saturday to search for the man, who had reportedly drunk a large quantity of alcohol and had not been seen by his friends for two hours.

Team leader Mike Blakey said: “The area is notoriously complex with several hazards, including old mine workings and fast-flowing deep water.

“We immediately sent a search dog to the area while the rest of the team were mobilising. Given the information available we also called for the assistance of five other mountain rescue search dogs, Penrith MRT, and Keswick MRT to provide a group of swiftwater technicians to help us to search the gorge and river.

“At around 5am the team’s search dog Corrie and handler Andy located the missing male who had fallen down a wall about 10ft high and then somehow fallen another 8 to 10 ft into the old waterwheel housing.

“When the handler got to him he was sleeping off the alcohol having sustained suspected spinal injuries in his fall. Given the large volume of alcohol he said he had consumed it was difficult for the team to fully assess the extent of his injuries.

“The remaining team members went to the man’s aid and undertook a complex rescue to evacuate him, firstly from the waterwheel housing and then up a grassy slope. He was then lifted, horizontally, on the stretcher up the 10ft high wall.

“This callout came in the middle of the night, disturbing the sleep of the team members who are all volunteers and give their time freely. Indeed, many members were about to spend the day at the Lowther Show to help raise funds for the team.

“It is disheartening to report that the man was abusive to team members, paramedics and the Coastguard helicopter crew that flew him, in poor weather conditions, to James Cook Hospital, Middlesbrough.”

The search and subsequent rescue lasted five hours and involved two mountain rescue teams and six Lake District Mountain Rescue Search Dogs, the police, ambulance service and Coastguard helicopter crew.

The Patterdale MRT team leader said: “The man was released from hospital the next day with some minor spinal injuries and I expect a pretty serious hangover.

“It’s a good job he doesn’t have to pay for any of the rescue services, because the bill would probably be quite expensive.”

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