AN Army medic from Middlewich fell 500ft to his death in a gruelling mountain race.
Sergeant Paul Upton died in the Welsh One Thousand Metre Peak Race in Snowdonia on Saturday, competing as part of a four-strong team representing the armed forces.
Rescuers rushed to save the 37-year-old after he fell from on Wales’ third highest peak, Carnedd Llewelyn, shortly before 11am.
A crewman from an RAF rescue helicopter was winched down and attempted to resuscitate him with a defibrillator. He was airlifted to hospital in Bangor, where he was pronounced dead.
Sgt Upton saw operational service in Northern Ireland, Kosovo in the former Yugoslavia, Sierra Leone and Iraq. He had also earned the Queen’s Jubilee Medal and the Accumulated Service Medal.
Sgt Upton, originally from Chester, was based at RAF Brize Norton in Oxfordshire.
A spokesman for his Army unit said: ‘A highly qualified medic, and soon due to return to The Parachute Regiment to work in the regimental aid post, Paul thrived on physical challenges and was very much at home in the mountains.
‘He was an extremely popular soldier who lived life to the full.
‘He was a totally reliable, enthusiastic and consummately professional soldier who shall be sorely missed.’
It is thought the divorced father-of- two – who was due to remarry later this year – may have lost his way as unforecast low cloud descended.
Initial reports suggested he may have suffered a heart attack. But it was not known yesterday whether this was what triggered the fall.
Mountain rescue teams were scrambled to the scene in a vain attempt to save him, but ambulance crews and the air ambulance could not access the site because it was on steep ground.
Rescue team spokesman Chris Lloyd said: ‘We got a message from North Wales Police with a report of a male who had had a heart attack.
‘There was a message afterwards that the air ambulance was not going to be attending because the incident was on very steep ground.
‘The weather forecast earlier in the day did not indicate that there was going to be low cloud.’
The annual race begins on the coast at Aber and ends on Snowdon’s 3,560ft summit after taking in several mountains. A police spokesman said there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the man’s death.