Coun­try’s first ever ski-res­cue sees stranded mo­torists air­lifted to safety

Bray People - - News -

MOUN­TAIN RES­CUE teams had to ski to the res­cue of four mo­torists stranded overnight for 14 hours in the Sally Gap be­cause of heavy snow­fall in the first ever doc­u­mented skires­cue in Ire­land.

On Tues­day night of last week there were a num­ber of sep­a­rate in­ci­dents, in­clud­ing one in­volv­ing a Dutch cou­ple.

Three sep­a­rate 4X4 ve­hi­cles also ended up stranded in the Sally Gap all night, with res­cue per­son­nel un­able to make their way through thick snow to as­sist the mo­torists un­til 8 a.m. Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

The Dutch tourists were snow­bound in their car near Kil­la­kee and res­cue per­son­nel were only able to reach them with the help of a trac­tor. They were res­cued and es­corted to safety by 3 a.m..

The 4X4 ve­hi­cles were stuck in the Sally Gap de­spite warn­ings that the road was closed to traf­fic be­cause of the treach­er­ous weather, leav­ing four men from Dublin stranded since 5 p.m. on Tues­day af­ter­noon.

Res­cue per­son­nel were alerted to the sit­u­a­tion and first tried to gain ac­cess to the group through Laragh and Round­wood, but found the roads in­volved were im­pass­able. In some parts con­di­tions got so bad there were drifts of over four feet in height.

For­tu­nately the res­cue teams were able to keep in touch with the four as they still had mo­bile cov­er­age. There was still con­cern for their safety even though they were able to keep the ve­hi­cle en­gines run­ning to keep warm. They were also warned to keep their ex­hausts clear of snow at all times so as to pre­vent ac­ci­den­tal car­bon monox­ide poi­son­ing.

Medics were also wor­ried about the con­di­tion of the men who hadn’t eaten since Tues­day lunchtime and had no pro­vi­sions with them. They also spent some time try­ing to dig the ve­hi­cles out of the snow and as a re­sult had to sit in damp cloth­ing, run­ning the risk of catch­ing hy­pother­mia. It was vi­tal to get some sort of warm cloth­ing and pro­vi­sions to them.

Just be­fore 8 a.m. two moun­tain res­cue vol­un­teers man­aged to ski into the area where the group were stranded and pro­vided them with blan­kets and food to keep them warm.

There was a slight break in the weather, giv­ing the coast­guard he­li­copter a win­dow of op­por­tu­nity. They were able to ar­rive at the scene within 30 min­utes af­ter the ski party and air­lifted the men to safety in Bless­ing­ton.

RIGHT - A res­cue he­li­copter ar­rives to air­lift the stranded mo­torists. FAR RIGHT - Two of the brave res­cue team, Ro­nan Leni­han and Ivan Mahon.

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