Rescuer who plunged 500ft trying to save Covidiots ‘wheelchair-bound for life’

A brave rescuer who plunged 500ft trying to rescue two Covid lockdown-flouting campers could spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

Chris Lewis, 60, has been identified as the rescuer by his colleagues at Patterdale Mountain Rescue Team in Cumbria. More than £350,000 has already been raised to support him.

His teammates say that being left in a wheelchair for the rest of his life would be a "pretty good outcome".

Mr Lewis was one of the members of the team on February 6 called to Red Screes above Kirkstone Pass in the Lake District to two men who had travelled from Liverpool and Leicester to stay overnight in the wilderness.

A 47-year-old from Leicester suffered chest pains during the night and called for help, but on their way to reach him Mr Lewis plunged down a ravine.

The Covidiot campers were each fined £200 for breaking lockdown restrictions, writes The Telegraph.

The Patterdale Mountain Rescue is made up on volunteers. Team leader Mike Rippon said: "He's got quite a lot of damage to his back in the area of his neck which was pretty serious and critical conditions for the future.

"We expect him to be at the best case wheelchair bound but that would be a pretty good outcome."

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The rescuer's horrific injuries hit the entire team hard. All four of his limbs are currently paralysed but medics hope he will regain some feeling in his arms.

Mr Rippon added: "It has been significant. In the last seven days or so we have tried to assess the team's moral, mental wellbeing and how it has affected everybody.

"We've put things in place to allow people to reach out about what they're feeling as a result of the incident.

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"These things don't come out in people overnight so we'll have to monitor things for the foreseeable future.

"We are a team of dedicated volunteers and like everyone in mountain rescue we give our time freely, we go out and rescue people at the drop of a hat. It is unfortunate that in this case these people were breaking lockdown rules."

Mr Lewis, who used to work for pharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca before retiring, also suffered multiple facial fractures in the shocking fall and is still in intensive care.

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Colleague Mike Blakey branded it the "worst rescue" in his 25 years with the service.

He said: "I've seen some things in my time but you never expect to have to rescue one of your own. He's having conversations with me already about where we are going to go in the wheelchair."

Rescue volunteer Ben Hammond called his colleague's injuries "certainly his injuries are life-changing."

Online fundraisers have been set up and raised hundreds of thousands of pounds already.

Richard Warren, chairman of the Lake District Search and Mountain Rescue Association, said Mr Lewis was a "fantastic guy" and the support has been "overwhelming".

Mr Warren said the first thing Mr Lewis said when he arrived at the hospital was "how's the other casualty?".

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