The hill walker who collapsed and died in the Mournes on New Year’s Eve has been named locally as a man in his mid-40s from Co Armagh.
Mark Elliott, 44, is reported to have become unwell as he descended from the area between Slieve Donard and Slieve Commedagh.
A major medical and rescue emergency operation was launched when it was suspected Mr Elliott had suffered a heart attack.
A number of other walkers also came to his aid but the Mourne Mountain Rescue Team say he was pronounced dead at the scene.
Mr Elliott, who was nicknamed ‘ET,’ was a member of the Portadown True Blues Flute Band and well-known throughout the bands’ community.
In a Facebook tribute, Portadown True Blues said: “ET who was in the band for many years and most recently a committee member and lead drummer was a leading example of someone that enjoyed their culture and marching bands.
“ET who took a lot of interest in our learner classes trying to bring new younger blood into the band was a role model for those lads who came through the band.
“ET took pride in being in the band and also the past few years while being able to share that passion of the band with his son Alexander who is also a member.”
The band statement went on to say: “We would like to place on record our deepest condolences to his wife Tracey and son Alexander and the wider family circle at this sad time.
“Till we meet again my friend you will never be forgotten within the ranks of the crimson army.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6.”
DUP MLA Jonathan Buckley has also expressed his condolences to Mr Elliott’s family.
He said: “Desperately sorry to hear the news of the sudden passing of Mark Elliot.
“Mark was well known and respected in our town and my heart truly goes out to his wife Tracey and son Alexander, whom he was so devoted to.
“My sincere sympathy to Mark’s family and friends. Sad hearts today.”
A spokesperson of Mourne Mountain Rescue Team said: “At 13.53 hrs [on Thursday] the team received a request for assistance regarding a medical emergency.
“A walker had collapsed shortly after beginning descent from the Donard Commedagh Saddle.
“Other walkers stopped to provide help, with nearby team members responding, followed by a response from the Air Ambulance and further team members.”
The MMRT spokesperson said that although other walkers came to the aid of the person in distress, prior to the arrival of emergency services, they were pronounced dead at the scene.
“Other members of the walker’s group were escorted off the mountain while the deceased was evacuated by the team on a stretcher to road access,” the spokesperson said.
“A note of thanks to all those involved today including those who stopped to assist, NI Ambulance Service, Air Ambulance, Police call handling, Belfast Coastguard, Rescue Helicopter 199, Newcastle Coastguard and Police Search & Rescue, including the 23 team MMRT members responding with stand down at 18.55 hrs.”
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