A 15 minute stroll turned into a terrifying six hours lost on a mountain when a walker became disoriented in thick fog and rain.
The experienced hiker, who is usually prepared for all eventualities, has thanked Dyfed-Powys Police and Western Beacons Mountain Rescue Team for finding her when she thought all hope was lost.
The 50-year-old, who has asked to remain anonymous, has shared her experience to urge people not to assume walking in isolation is a safe way to exercise during COVID-19 restrictions after her actions put officers and volunteers at risk.
She said: “Everything that could go wrong did go wrong on that day, and I’m just the luckiest person in the world to be here today.
“The really hard part to come to terms with is that I’m so aware of the dangers of the mountain. I’ve always been aware of how easy it is to get lost, and I had to admit I was one of those people who went out unprepared.
“Not only did I put myself at risk, but I put the police and mountain rescue team in danger too. For them to have to come out in those conditions to look for me, but also with the risk of COVID just made me feel so guilty.”
The mother-of-two had headed out for a quick dog walk on the Black Mountain near Brynamman, leaving behind the safety bag she usually carries for a longer hike. With it, she’d have been prepared with a phone charger, food, water and other supplies in case of an emergency.
Parking in a familiar spot, she began walking a route they’d covered many times before. Unaware that there was a weather warning in place, she was quickly caught out by forceful wind and torrential rain.
“I tried to turn back to the car, but the wind physically knocked me over,” she said. “That happened a few times, and totally disoriented me.
“Then the rain started, and it was hitting my face like bullets. I was trying to get back to the car, but I just couldn’t find it.
“After a while, we hit a boggy area, which I knew from previous walks was nowhere near the car.
“That’s when I realised we weren’t going to get back.”
By 6pm, she was unable to see more than a few metres, and with her phone battery down to 19 per cent she knew she had to call for help.
Hunkering down in a hole to protect herself from the elements, she checked the What Three Words app, which generates three words to allow users to share their precise location, and dialled 999.
However, she had no idea that due to poor mobile signal, the location generated by the app was inaccurate – sending police and mountain rescue volunteers in the wrong direction.
“I got up every few minutes so I didn’t get hypothermia, and shouted ‘hello’ in case anyone was around,” she said.
“I couldn’t see a thing. Everything below was pitch black, and above was thick fog.
“I phoned 999 again to tell them I was still where I’d said I was. They sent a link to find my GPS coordinates, but my phone just wouldn’t load it.
“I checked the What Three Words app again and realised I was in a completely different place to where they thought I was.
“Then the call cut out.”
A few minutes later she received a call from mountain rescue – just as her phone battery died.
She walked out into the open to be more visible, but the terrain was rough, and visibility so poor that she was forced to give up.
“In the short distance we walked, I fell over so many times, and couldn’t risk continuing,” she said.
“In the end we just laid down on the grass. I thought we were going to die there.”
Eventually, she heard a slight noise, but couldn’t work out where it was coming from. Then she saw a tiny light in the distance.
“I grabbed the dog and just started running towards it,” she said.
“By that point I was screaming and shouting, and suddenly there were more lights. One of their torches had caught a flash from the dog’s eyes, otherwise they wouldn’t have seen me.
“I thought ‘we’re going to live’, and had this overwhelming relief that I would see my kids again.”
After a 40 minute walk back to the road in treacherous conditions, she was finally on her way home – six hours after leaving her car.
Describing it as the most terrifying ordeal of her life, she has shared her experience as a stark reminder of the dangers of mountain walking and how quickly conditions can change.
“The whole time I was thinking ‘why didn’t I bring my bag?’” she said. “It’s the biggest mistake I’ve ever made.
“I was like one of those prats I shout at on the news for climbing Snowdon in flip flops. It will never, ever happen again, and I will forever be grateful to the police and volunteers who put their lives at risk to save mine.
“If anyone takes anything from my story, please let it be that they won’t make the same mistake I did.”
Sergeant Dylan Davies, of Dyfed-Powys Police, said: “The conditions on this particular evening were absolutely treacherous, and we as police were forced to call off our search.
“Our thanks go to the Western Beacons Mountain Rescue Team who were able to continue, and who managed to find her despite all odds.
“In reminding people of the restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic we are often asked what the risk is of walking in isolation where people are unlikely to come into contact with others. This incident is evidence that while you might think you are safe, you could well end up putting yourself and others at risk.”
* Mountain Rescue Teams can be requested in an emergency by calling 999 and first asking for police. The incident will be assessed, and if appropriate directed to the nearest MRT.
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Eight people have lost £58k in the last week to criminals in ‘courier fraud’ – with Llanelli area being hit hardest
Dyfed-Powys Police is investigating a growing number of reports of people posing as bank staff or police officers, as eight people have lost £58,000 to criminals in the last week alone due to ‘Courier Fraud’.
This increase is particularly prevalent in the Llanelli area.
DC Gareth Jordan from the Economic Crime Team said: “People posing as fake bank staff or police officers have been calling residents and persuading them their accounts have been compromised, then sending a courier to collect the money. This is known as Courier Fraud.
“In the past week alone we have seen eight people lose a significant amount of money between them, and it’s very distressing for those victims. We are asking friends and family to look out for those that could be vulnerable – talk to them about this scam, advise them to be vigilant, and report any suspicious calls.
“Please remember that police, or your bank, will never ask you to withdraw money or transfer it to a ‘safe’ account.”
Dyfed Powys Police warn that if someone is claiming to be a police officer asks you to withdraw money for safe keeping or that they’re investigating the bank staff, it’s a scam.
The police, or your bank, will never ask you to assist in an internal investigation. They will never ask you to reveal your full banking password or PIN either. Never hand your card over with the PIN number.
And the police will never send someone to your home to collect money, nor will they ask you to transfer funds out of your account.
Top Tips to protect yourself from fraudsters
Stop: Always take a moment to think before parting with your money or information – it could keep you safe.
Challenge: Could it be fake? It’s ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you’ve fallen victim to a scam and report it to the police.
Report suspicious emails to: email@example.com
You can also report suspicious texts by forwarding the original message to 7726, which spells SPAM on your keypad.
Anyone who thinks they have fallen victim to a scammer should report it by calling 101, or Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. For further advice and information on how to avoid being scammed visit www.actionfraud.police.uk.
Four men fined £6,000 for ‘barbaric’ illegal foul hook fishing
Four men caught using a barbaric and illegal fishing method by Natural Resources Wales (NRW) enforcement officers during patrols of the River Loughor, near Llanelli, have been fined a total of £6,000.
They each appeared before Llanelli Magistrates Court on 16 and 17 June and pleaded guilty to the offence of foul hooking – also known as snatching – which is prohibited under Section 1 of the Salmon and Freshwater Fisheries Act 1975.
They were fined a total of £6,000 and ordered to pay £10,300 to NRW for investigation costs.
The men were caught by NRW fisheries enforcement officers who were undertaking riverbank patrols of the River Loughor in summer 2021, working to address and prevent the use of foul hook fishing.
Each fish caught using the foul hooking method had been snagged on its tail, back or flank. All fishing equipment and illegally caught fish were seized by NRW and later confiscated by the court.
Alun Thomas, Senior Fisheries Enforcement Officer for NRW, said: “Foul hook fishing is barbaric, unethical and illegal. This method of fishing is not only indiscriminate on what species or size fish that are killed, but also inflicts untold damage to unseen numbers of fish which are likely to die of their injuries soon after. This is often made worse by using deliberately tampered fishing lures.
“NRW’s Fisheries Enforcement Officers and police take these incidents seriously, as do the courts. Hopefully, the small minority of anglers considering using illegal fishing methods will take heed of the heavy fines issued by the courts.”
Romuald Krzysztof Biernacki of Dwyfor, Llanelli, was caught using the foul hooking method on 4 July 2021. He had illegally caught four mullets and six flounder fish.
Biernacki was fined £1,500 and made to pay part of NRW’s investigation costs of £2,500.
Hung Van Tran, travelled from his Gibson Road home in Handsworth, Birmingham, to fish on river Loughor on 25 August 2021. NRW fisheries enforcement officers discovered he had illegally caught four mullet fish using the foul hook method.
Hung Van Tran was fined £1,500 and ordered to pay part of NRW’s investigation costs of £1,800.
Duc Duy Tran of Brithweynydd, Tonypandy, and Tan Van Tran of Pentrebane Street, Caerphilly, were caught during another river patrol carried out by NRW fisheries enforcement officers accompanied by Dyfed-Powys Police’s Wildlife Crime Officer on 6 September 2021.
Duc Duy Tran had illegally caught 14 mullet fish and was fined £1,500. He must also pay £3,000 to NRW for investigation costs.
Tan Van Tran had illegally caught four mullet fish. He was fined £1,500, plus £3,000 to NRW for investigation costs.
Alun Thomas added: “We would like to thank Dyfed-Powys Police, the local community and law-abiding anglers in the area for their continued support in reporting these illegal fishing activities. I urge them to continue to report such activity and we will investigate.
“We would encourage anyone going fishing to familiarise themselves with the rules and regulations before going.”
(Lead image: Natural Resources Wales)
Man who filmed rape of Ammanford woman on victim’s phone jailed for 10 years
A man who filmed himself raping a woman on his victim’s phone has been sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Cameron Hassan, aged 31, of no fixed abode, attacked the woman, raping her as she slept in Ammanford on 21 August 2021.
Hassan, who was midway through his trial at Swansea Crown Court after denying any wrongdoing, changed his plea to guilty after the jury was shown the video of the attack.
He was back before Swansea Crown Court today and was sentenced to 10 years in prison .
Senior Investigating Officer DI Melanie Havard said the victim had shown great strength and determination throughout the investigation and trial.
“I must commend her tremendous courage in coming forward and the tenacity shown throughout the investigation,” she said.
“We appreciate this is not easy for anyone to do but the victim has expressed her gratitude to the officer in the case for her support and empathy throughout this process.
“We hope this case demonstrates that Dyfed-Powys Police acts on serious allegations such as rape and sexual assault with officers working tirelessly to secure justice for victims.
“If you are suffering because of similar abuse, please contact the police, or if you would rather speak to someone in confidence, New Pathways are an independent charity that will support you through every step of the investigation.”
New Pathways can be contacted at 01685 379 310 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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