Mountain Rescuer Chris Lewis Remembered for His Selflessness in Lake District Tragedy

A coroner has paid tribute to Chris Lewis, a mountain rescue volunteer from Ambleside, who suffered life-altering injuries during a rescue operation in the Lake District.

In February 2021, Lewis was part of the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team responding to an emergency call from two campers at Red Screes above Kirkstone Pass.

The campers, who were violating lockdown rules at the time, reported one of them experiencing chest pains, prompting the rescue operation.

Image Source: PA Media Mountain rescuer Chris Lewis had to return to hospital with pneumonia

Tragically, during the operation, Lewis fell 500ft (150m) down a rocky slope, resulting in serious head and spinal injuries that left him quadriplegic and in need of 24-hour care.

Despite his injuries, Lewis battled on until September 2023, when he succumbed to pneumonia, a complication triggered by his injuries.

The coroner, Kirsty Gomersal of Cockermouth Coroner’s Court, recorded a verdict of accidental death and highlighted the inherent risks faced by mountain rescue volunteers. Gomersal commended the selflessness of volunteers like Lewis, who put their lives on the line to assist others in need. Mike Rippon, leader of the Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team, remembered Lewis as a highly-valued team member and trustee, emphasizing the profound loss felt by the team and the community.

The incident serves as a somber reminder of the dangers faced by mountain rescue teams and the sacrifices made by volunteers. It also underscores the importance of adhering to safety and legal guidelines, especially during periods of lockdown, to prevent putting both oneself and rescuers at risk. The two campers involved in the incident were fined for breaking lockdown rules, a small consequence compared to the tragic outcome of the rescue operation.

Chris Lewis’s legacy is a testament to the bravery and dedication of mountain rescue volunteers across the UK, who continue to selflessly respond to emergencies, often in treacherous conditions, to ensure the safety of outdoor enthusiasts.

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