Climber survives four-day ordeal

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The Independent Online
A 57-year-old hill walker was found alive yesterday after surviving more than four days lying badly injured at the foot of a steep gully in the Scottish Highlands.

Robert Sparkes, a university lecturer, had been missing since Sunday after he failed to return from a three-day solo expedition in Glen Etive, south of Fort William.

More than 50 rescuers from five Scottish mountain rescue teams had scoured the hills since first light on Monday, with fears for his safety growing.

Shortly after 4pm yesterday the crew of a helicopter from HMS Gannet saw Mr Sparkes lying at the bottom of a steep gully on Stob Dubh mountain, but was unable to hover close enough to rescue him.

Rescuers then scrambled down to him and he was stretchered to the helicopter and flown to Belford Hospital, Fort William.

It is understood Mr Sparkes, of Buchlyvie, Stirlingshire, has suffered injuries including a suspected broken back.

A police spokesman at Fort William said: "It is absolutely remarkable that he has survived this long. The weather has been quite warm, but he was badly injured - what an amazing tale."

His family was "overjoyed" at the outcome. His wife Margaret had been in the search area since her husband was reported missing.

A family friend, Allison Creelman, said yesterday: "We heard that he has been found with a broken leg and broken arm, but conscious and talking. We are all just overjoyed - the main thing is that he is alive. It's just wonderful."

His two children David, 17, and Jenny, 15, were also told the news.

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