Isobel Bytautas, 55, from Selkirk, was tragically killed by a lightning strike while hiking in the Mamores near Kinlochleven last week.
We contacted Andy Nelson, Team Leader at Glencoe Mountain Rescue, who provided the following details of the incident.
Glencoe Mountain Rescue were called by Police Scotland just before 1800 on 8th June 2019. A 999 call received from a party of seven walkers in the Mamores reported a lightning strike to the group. At that point, they suspected one of their group was fatally injured, another hurt.
A Coastguard helicopter was requested from Inverness, and Andy Nelson raised the rescue team with a Priority 1 callout, suggesting maximum urgency.
Vehicles left Glencoe Mountain Rescue centre five minutes later to make the fifteen-minute drive to Kinlochleven, then Mamore Lodge. By the time the team had driven 4x4s up tracks along Loch Eilde, the Coastguard helicopter was approaching the scene. Rescue 151 helicopter did some excellent flying in what was still unstable weather to get to the incident site. After some careful consideration, due to electrical charge still being present in the ground and atmosphere, the winchman reached the party. The winchman confirmed that one of the party had passed away. The six survivors were airlifted and taken to hospital in Fort William.
Glencoe Mountain Rescue were by now en route, on foot to the site, to recover the deceased lady. Fourteen team members attended and packaged the victim. Rescue 151 had completed the run to Fort William, and refuelled. Approaching the scene, they offered to uplift the casualty – a huge help to Glencoe MR due to the prospect of a descent down very steep terrain, which, with necessary back roping, would have been a protracted effort.
Andy Nelson, Glencoe MRT leader, said, “This was a very rare occurrence in the Scottish mountains, more often heard of in alpine terrain, and hard to predict. Heavy afternoon rain was forecast, but no electrical activity. This is not a criticism of the Met Office, merely an acknowledgement that weather in the mountains is unpredictable. In Britain we embrace our ‘variable’ weather, and rightly so, however, some occasions clearly involve more than the accepted rainfall.
“It’s worth mentioning that mountaineers hit the news when tragedy strikes, and not after the thousands of benign and productive hill days we otherwise enjoy.
“Glencoe Mountain Rescue would like to pass on condolences to the family and friends of Isobel. Also, our thanks to Police Scotland and Coastguard helicopter crew on Rescue 151, for excellent and speedy teamwork.”
- Further reading: our guide to staying safe in thunderstorms
Header image: a view in the Mamores, © Alex Roddie