Harrogate pilot in blizzard rescue mission

Lieutenant Commander Craig Sweeney. (S)

Lieutenant Commander Craig Sweeney. (S)

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A Royal Navy helicopter pilot from Harrogate was part of a team whose rescue mission most likely saved the life of a hypothermic climber in Glencoe.

Lieutenant Commander Craig Sweeney, a former Harrogate Grammar School pupil, responded to the call on Friday morning to save a walker caught in blizzard conditions.

Lieutenant Sweeney, 38, scrambled to 3,658ft Stob Coire nan Lochan with his team in a Sea King Mark 5.

He described the rescue once they had located the walker: “In the helicopter we could just see the rock face the helicopter we could just see the rock face out of one side of the aircraft and nothing but whirling snow out of the other.

“It is probably the worst conditions I have ever experienced in the mountains.”

With the climber safely on board, the helicopter sped to Fort William, where the casualty was rushed to Belford Hospital. He has since been discharged.

The RAF’s Aeronautical Rescue Co-ordination Commanding officer, Squadron Leader Jon Heald said of the team: “Their prompt reaction most likely saved his life.”