Emergency service personnel who rescued a man who fell up to 50 metres off a cliff on an Achill mountain say they are astonished that he survived.
A Mayo man aged in his late 40s somehow survived falling up to 50 metres off Slievemore on Saturday morning and falling onto rocks after getting disoriented in thick fog while climbing the mountain. Due to the dangerous terrain and difficult weather conditions, the rescue operation took over seven hours before the casualty was brought to a waiting ambulance and transferred to Mayo University Hospital.
The injured man, who is from the Castlebar area, was placed in Intensive Care anddespite suffering extensive injuries, is expected to make a full recovery.
A spokesperson for the Achill Coast Guard told The Mayo News that the man was very lucky to have survived the fall.
“It was an almost sheer cliff and it is estimated that he dropped up to 50 metres before coming to a final resting place on a pile of stones. He fell a huge distance and everyone is astonished that he survived the fall. You would not expect someone to survive a fall from half that height.
“If you look up at Slievemore from the Silver Strand in Dugort and pick out the worst place you could fall, that is where he fell from. He obviously has a tough body,” he said.
The casualty was among a party of four who set out in the morning to climb Achill’s largest mountain when thick fog came upon them. The group were near the top of the mountain when one of the men fell off the side of a cliff and fell up to 50 metres before coming to a rest on a pile of rocks at an area known locally as The Lady’s Fall.
The alarm was raised at approximately 10am and members of the Achill Coast Guard and Mayo Mountain Rescue were tasked to locate the casualty. Due to the thick fog which reduced visibility to 50 metres in parts, local shepherds had to use their local knowledge to locate the casualty and guide members of the rescue teams to the location in order to treat the casualty.
An immediate evacuation from the mountain was requested but attempts to do so by the Sligo-based Irish Coast Guard rescue helicopter R118 had to be abandoned due to fog as was an attempt by the Irish Air Corp Medical Emergency Medical Service.
The man had to be stretchered off the mountain and transferred to an awaiting ambulance and escorted to hospital by members of the gardaí.
Slievemore mountain has an elevation of 671 metres located on the northern side of the island and is popular with hikers but is also known to be dangerous in locations. On the morning of the accident, the summit of the mountain was understood to have been clear but the group became disoriented when fog came in over the sea. The group were near the summit when the accident occurred.
The Coast Guard spokesperson complimented all those involved in the rescue including the Mayo Mountain Rescue and Dr Jason Horan of Mayo Community Rapid Response who provided medical assistance at the scene.