A WALKER rescued by South Yorkshire’s police helicopter after he was stranded in the Peak District has told how he thought he and his girlfriend were going to die before they were found.
Mark Lardon, from Dronfield, set fire to his map to get the attention of the chopper scrambled to search for him and his partner after they got stuck on an icy waterfall on Kinder Scout, Derbyshire, and raised the alarm.
The couple had been walking on Kinder Scout, in training for a charity hike up Snowdon, when they got into difficulty this month.
They spotted the helicopter, but feared it would not spot them, so set fire to their map to get the attention of airborne crew.
Mark, aged 26, said: “I thought we weren’t going to make it out alive. We had to scramble back up the hill. It was pitch black by then.
“It was terrifying. I had to keep my girlfriend calm, because it wasn’t only getting stuck up there, it was the effects of the cold.
“The helicopter seemed to be circling everywhere apart from over us. I realised they have thermal imaging cameras which would be able to detect us if we set fire to something. The biggest thing I had was a map, so I set fire to that and it worked.”
Mr Lardon’s praise came ahead of an online web chat to discuss plans for South Yorkshire Police to lose its own dedicated helicopter.
The Government is introducing a National Police Air Service, which will see 23 helicopters working from 20 bases, with South Yorkshire to be served by choppers based in Derbyshire, Humberside and West Yorkshire, rather than having its own.
Fifty people took part in the first live web chat about the plan and there will be a second chance tonight, between 6pm and 8pm.
n To take part, visit www.southyorks.gov.uk/SYJSHome/PoliceHome/PoliceHelicopter.aspx at 6pm.