Journalist Arrested after Mountain Rescue Hoaxby Jack Geldard - Editor - UKC Sep/2010
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Keswick Mountain Rescue Team were needlessly dispatched in foul weather to the foot of Skiddaw during a time of flood crisis last November, as hoax caller Sarah Louise Crickmer sat drinking in the Lyzzick Hall Hotel at Underskiddaw.
Walkers on Skiddaw
© Marcus Tierney, Jan 2006
Crickmer, a 27 year old journalist from Brass Thill Way, South Shields, has been found guilty of two counts of 'sending false messages by a public electronic communication network to cause annoyance, inconvenience or anxiety' at West Allerdale and Keswick Magistrates.
Thirty two members of the Keswick Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) responded to the call and a team were dispatched to Skiddaw in poor conditions after Crickmer reported that a walker had fallen and broken their leg. The police and the Team Leader became suspicious of the call and after a visit to Crickmer's hotel, where she was found asleep in the lounge smelling of alcohol, the rescue operation was called off as she admitted to police that the call was a hoax.
PC Clark, one of the police officers who visited Crickmer at the hotel, said:
"She laughed when I woke her up. She smelled of alcohol, but didn't come across as drunk... ...She was very animated. She was angry and screamed 'I'm a liar. I made it up'."
Crickmer called in the false incident during the deadly flooding that swept Cumbria back in November 2009. Forensic police examined Crickmer's laptop and discovered a story which began “Mountain rescuers were said to be mortified” and evidence that she had researched the local mountain geography.
A statement on the Keswick MRT Website says: “...a reporter was trying to make a story out of mountain rescue teams not doing mountain rescues because of their input to the flood rescue operations.”
Keswick MRT responded: As was categorically demonstrated on the day this was not, and never will be, the case. Within 2 days of this call the Team was involved in a serious accident on Sharp Edge; again lasting several hours and in also in poor weather conditions.
The Keswick MRT site goes on to explain: “The Team was heavily involved in the severe flooding that hit Keswick in November 2009 where they were active for a continuous 30 hour period and assisted 190 casualties, before going on to help with the more publicised flood relief and search activities at Cockermouth and Workington.”
Keswick MRT is the busiest in the country with 136 full-team rescues and 28 alerts in 2009 and is staffed by volunteers and has annual running costs of £75000. These funds are entirely from public donations.
The Keswick Mountain Rescue Team are said to be “very pleased” at how the Police and Magistrates have taken this incident extremely seriously. A warrant has now been issued for Crickmer's arrest and her case has been adjourned.