One man and his dog to the rescue
A SPANIEL and her master have emerged as the heroes of a massive avalanche in which a group of Suffolk soldiers escaped serious injury.Six-year-old Breagh sniffed out the bodies of colleagues of Lieutenant Jamie Murray buried in the snow following the accident in the Cairngorm Mountains in the Scottish Highlands.
A SPANIEL and her master have emerged as the heroes of a massive avalanche in which a group of Wattisham soldiers escaped serious injury.
Six-year-old Breagh sniffed out the bodies of colleagues of Lieutenant Jamie Murray buried in the snow following the accident in the Cairngorm Mountains in the Scottish Highlands.
She licked their faces and Lt Murray dug them out and gave them first aid before an RAF helicopter came to the rescue.
Lt Murray and seven colleagues, all from 662 Squadron of 3 Regiment Army Air Corps based at airfield, were doing adventure training on Coire an Lochan on Tuesday when the accident happened.
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His six-year-old pet dog Breagh, which is Gaelic for beautiful, was unhurt and she immediately delved into the snow to look for the other soldiers, licking their faces.
"The dog was running from person to person, she showed me where everyone else was," said Lt Murray.
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One of the troops was unconscious but Lt Murray brought him around. He also helped the other casualties from the snow.
Lt Murray explained: "The situation was a lot better than I first thought, I realised they didn't have any broken bones."
Twenty members of three mountain rescue teams – Cairngorm, Glenmore Lodge and RAF Kinloss – a Sea King from RAF Lossiemouth and an air ambulance were involved in the rescue operation.
The Sea King took the eight soldiers to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness for treatment.
They were among a group of 16 on adventure training in the Highlands.
Major Andrew Gossage, officer commanding 662 Squadron, who travelled up from Suffolk yesterday, said the Army Accident Investigation Team would investigate the incident as a matter of routine.
He emphasised how well executed the rescue operation had been, by Lt Murray as well as the RAF, mountain rescue teams and staff at Raigmore.
He added: "I am very thankful that the avalanche wasn't any more serious."
Eight nursing staff and three doctors dealt with the five injured while other members of staff went on standby.
Five soldiers were detained overnight at the hospital on Tuesday.
Three were discharged last night but two – one with an abdominal injury and one with severe bruising on his thigh – are expected to be kept in for a couple of days.
The avalanche was believed to be the first to happen this late in the season since 1952.
It is unclear how long the investigation into the incident will take, but army personnel stress nobody was to blame.
An army spokeswoman said: "The rescue teams say there were freak conditions and no blame is attached to anyone. It was just bad luck and a freak condition of nature."