Pensioner rescued in the Highlands after SOS signal picked up in Texas

A pensioner who fell ill in a remote area of Scotland was rescued after his distress signal was picked up in the US.

The man in his mid-70s normally activates his SPOT beacon in a “check-in” mode each Sunday to let family and friends know he is OK.

On Sunday, he triggered an SOS instead, which was picked up thousands of miles away at the International Emergency Response Coordination Centre in Houston, Texas.

Responders notified HM Coastguard Mission Control Centre in Fareham, Hampshire, at around 6pm and the decision was made to send the Prestwick Coastguard helicopter to the remote cabin.

Lochaber Mountain Rescue Team was also called in as the helicopter was unable to winch the man to safety for medical assistance.

Once rescued he was flown to Fort William and taken to hospital by ambulance.

Neil Blewett, UK aeronautical operations centre controller (ARCC) for HM Coastguard, said the man was doing well after the ordeal.

“This is an excellent result thanks to the vigilance of our MCC (machine control centre) and ARCC not putting it down to an ordinary check alert,” he said.

“When the man activated his beacon that signal went via satellite to Houston, which then gets sent to our MCC for attention.

“What must seem a very long way round for an alert to reach us is actually very quick thanks to the satellite technology that we use.

“In this case, the man’s activation of his beacon, the satellites and the SPOT beacon itself saved his life because without any of those we would not have known he needed urgent help.

“We have since heard that the man is doing well and we wish him a speedy recovery so that he can return home as soon as possible.”