Patterdale mountain rescue of volunteer worst in 25 years

Patterdale mountain rescue of volunteer worst in 25 years

A mountain rescue volunteer has said saving a colleague who suffered life-changing injuries in a fall was the worst mission of his career.

Chris Lewis, 60, suffered severe spinal injuries when he fell 150m (500ft) in the Lake District on 6 February.

He was part of the Patterdale Mountain Rescue team going to the aid of two campers from Liverpool and Leicester after one fell ill.

Both campers have been fined £200 for breaching coronavirus lockdown rules.

Mr Lewis, who also suffered multiple facial fractures in the fall at Red Screes above Kirkstone Pass, is still in intensive care.

His team colleague Mike Blakey said: “I’ve done this for 25 years, I can honestly say this was the worst rescue.

“I’ve seen some things in my time but you never expect to have to rescue one of your own.

“He’s having conversations with me already about where we are going to go in the wheelchair.”

Rescue volunteer Ben Hammond, who was the first to get to Mr Lewis after he fell down a steep slope, said: “He’s a very experienced member of the team and is someone to look up to.

“Certainly his injuries are life-changing.”

The campers, who called for help after one of them started suffering chest pains, have been widely condemned online, but Martin Cotterell from the team said volunteers “are not there to judge”.

“We are there to help,” he said. “We all love the fells, we are all mountaineers, we go out there because we think we can help people in difficulty. Trying to judge is wrong.”

Online fundraisers have been set up and raised thousands of pounds for the team.

Kate Wittenbury, who started one of the funds, said: “Local people are quite angry about it to be honest. It didn’t really have to happen, they shouldn’t have been here in the first place.

“I just thought something positive needed to be done to offset the negativity.”

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