Man found in isolated forest rescued after SOS signal picked up 4,500 miles away

A man living in an isolated Scottish forest was rescued after his distress signal was picked up in the USA.

Ken Smith was injured when a pile of logs collapsed on him in Glen Nevis, Lochaber on Saturday afternoon.

Four members of Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team were airlifted by the Inverness-based coastguard search and rescue helicopter.

The accident happened almost a year to the day after he was rescued back in February 2019.

Donald Paterson, deputy leader of Lochaber MRT, said Mr Smith was conscious and had suffered head and chest injuries.

"He was conscious the whole time and obviously did the right thing in activating his personal emergency beacon," the rescue worker said.

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"It is linked to an American satellite and then relayed from the USA to UK coastguards.

"He had minor injuries but he is elderly. He had been out collecting logs and the pile came down on him.

"He was a bit worse for the wear and tear of the accident so it was felt it was best to take him to hospital."

Mr Smith was flown to the Belford Hospital at Fort William.

His condition is unknown.

Mr Smith lives "off grid" in a remote part of Lochaber.

He was saved last year after his distress signal was picked up thousands of miles away in Houston, Texas.

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Mr Smith, known locally as The Hermit, became unwell while in his log cabin a two-hour walk from the nearest road on the edge of Rannoch Moor, by Loch Treig.

Mr Smith, who is in his 70s, normally activates his beacon in a "check-in" alert mode on a Sunday to let family and friends know he is OK.

But in last year's rescue on February 3 he triggered an SOS instead of the normal alert mode.

The SOS signal was picked up by a response centre at the International Emergency Response Co-ordination Centre (IERCC) in Houston, which in turn notified HM Coastguard Mission Control Centre (MCC) in Fareham, Hampshire.

The MCC sent the Prestwick-based Coastguard helicopter to his cabin to check if he was OK.

The winchman who made his way to Mr Smith's cabin found that he was very ill and needed medical assistance.

The helicopter was unable to winch close enough to the cabin, so seven members of Lochaber MRT were airlifted in – and after a bit of a walk, stretchered him to the aircraft.

He was also then taken to the Belford Hospital in Fort William.

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