Mourne heroes

Mourne heroes

14 July 2021

A YOUNG woman who survived a fall down Slieve Donard has labelled the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team her “heroes”.

Cuan O’Brien was knocked unconscious when she fell 10 metres as she trekked with her partner on Sunday.

With injuries to her head and back, 13 members of the MMRT stretchered her off the mountain where she was then taken by ambulance to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast.

The air ambulance was also tasked to the emergency but was unable to land due to worsening weather conditions.

The 24 year-old told the Recorder: “I’m not sure how I’m still alive to be honest, I’m very lucky.

“To the men and women who carried me down the mountain, despite the continually worsening weather and steep summit, I want to say thank you. 

“You guys put your lives on the line for free and I honestly hope that anyone who can spare anything donates to make your jobs a little easier.”

The alarm was raised just after 1pm as Cuan and her partner, Sean Creaney, were walking down from the summit.

“The wind shifted and got really strong and caused the gravel to loosen making me loose my footing,” she explained.

“I slid down the mountain into my partner, causing us to collide. I then rolled down hitting my head and knocking me unconscious in the process. 

“Three mountain runners came to my aid, shielding me from the wind and wrapping me in blankets and loads of layers of clothes as I was freezing and couldn’t move. 

“One of them raised the alarm with Mountain Rescue and told them the location 

and what had happened as they witnessed it. Mountain Rescue then responded and I think it took them maybe an hour or so to reach because the weather conditions worsened. 

“According to witnesses, I tumbled down on the rocks around 10, maybe more,  metres, I’m not to sure exactly but it felt like forever.”

Cuan lost conscious for some time and was drowsy and disorientated when she came to.

“When I figured out what had happened, I panicked of course but the two females who helped me assured me I was okay and I calmed down,” she said.

“The three passers-by really were amazing and honestly put me at such ease. I panicked a bit when Mountain Rescue were trying to stretcher me because there were so many people under a tent over me my claustrophobia kicked in. 

“I felt really anxious and I told Marty from Mountain Rescue I felt anxious but he kept me calm and relaxed me which really helped a lot.”

Cuan, who lives in Lurgan, was discharged from hospital early on Monday morning without sustaining any broken bones but was suffering from concussion, muscle tears in her lower back and bruising all over her body.

Her partner also suffered some minor injuries during the fall but was able to walk off the mountain.

Cuan added: “I’m feeling very tender and sore but so thankful to be alive and walk out of hospital with the injuries I did. 

“I’d like to say a massive thank you to all the volunteers who work with Mountain Rescue. Your job is so incredibly important and valuable and you deserve so much credit for the heroes you guys and girls truly are.”

Cuan advised other walkers to always prepare for the worse and to stick to popular routes.

“Take the route that people will see you on, wrap up warm and most importantly, be careful. I wasn’t prepared for a fall but if I was to do this all again, which won’t be anytime soon, I wouldn’t want anyone to suffer what I had to go through,” stressed Cuan.

“I was lucky that I was on the main route but if you go off onto the side and fall, most likely help isn’t going to come, so please be mindful, be prepared, be safe.”

Her rescue from 100m below the summit was the first of the day for MMRT.

Just after 6pm, the team responded to another walker who had a lower leg injury near Ott Mountain. 

The team responded and located the casualty on the eastern side of the Mourne Wall above Lough Shannagh. The team carried the walker over the wall and down to the nearest access where the walker was handed over to a waiting ambulance crew. 

A MMRT spokesman said on social media: “A note of thanks also to Belfast Coastguard and Newcastle Coastguard Team who provided assistance to move team members and gear at the end of call 1 in preparation for call 2. In total 13 members responded and stood down at 2236hrs.”

The MMRT were lauded for its double rescue by local people and Mournes walkers.

Andy Boe wrote on Facebook: ‘These guys are true hero’s (sic). Selflessly going out to get the job done. Donate a few quid to help them out immensely’.

Mary Taylor wrote: ‘Massive thanks to these wonderful and courageous people. They respond arrive and rescue. No clashing of cymbals, no fanfares. Just doing what they do quietly and with compassion. Well done to all of you out there. You make our world a better place. What would we do without you?”

To support the MMRT which needs nearly £40,000 to provide its voluntary service, please visit