An injured climber being winched aboard a helicopter plunged to his death after the safety rope was allegedly cut.
Mark Phillips had already fallen 160ft from Ben Nevis and suffered serious head injuries when the RAF Sea King craft arrived to whisk him off to hospital.
But police and the MoD are now investigating after the rope hauling the 51-year-old aboard was said to have been accidentally severed.
Detectives and military officials refused to say whether the rescue line was cut by a crew member or how far council environmental health worker Mark, from nearby Spean Bridge, fell.
The experienced mountaineer was married to Caroline Phillips, a radiographer at Belford Hospital at Fort William. The couple had a son Ruaridh.
Paying an emotional tribute, she said today: “Mark was a loving father and husband and will be sorely missed by us and his many friends.
“Ruaridh and I thank them all for their support.
“Mark and I, with Ruaridh, had moved to the Highlands about 12 years ago so as to live amongst the hills and community we had got to love.”
Speaking of the tragedy, she added: “My beloved husband was enjoying the superb conditions the Scottish Highlands were affording.
“He had spent the previous few days climbing and walking in the hills with friends.
“Tragically he sustained fatal injuries following an incident on Ben Nevis.”
After Mark’s horrific death on Monday, police began taking statements from all those involved in the incident.
The MoD said: “It is very sad that someone died. An investigation by Northern Constabulary is under way.”
A police spokesman added: “We would never reveal the details of the circumstances surrounding the death.
“There are no further details at this time. A report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal.”
The helicopter that tried to rescue Mark had been scrambled from RAF Lossiemouth after he fell from the 4,406ft Ben Nevis.
The aircraft was stood down and a second chopper from HMS Gannet at Prestwick was sent to recover his body.
Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team were called to Mark’s original fall.
Leader John Stevenson said: “It was a bad one. We think he was the lead climber because his mate was on the rope. He saw him fall.
“He had massive head injuries. Accidents do happen. All it needs is one mistake and in a split second you are gone.”
How our sister website the Daily Record is reporting the story
Helicopter horror: Climber falls to his death after wire used to winch him to safety … – Mirror.co.uk
Top Stories – Google News