Police officers and coastguards said they have no idea how the man survived the plunge – the equivalent of 20 storeys – at Cloughton Wyke, near Scarborough, yesterday afternoon after pursuing one of his dogs which fell in high winds.
Humber Coastguard officials said they received a 999 call from the man’s distraught wife at about 2.30pm, reporting that her husband had fallen over the cliff and disappeared from view while attempting to rescue one of their three dogs.
A search-and-rescue helicopter from RAF Leconfield, near Beverley, was diverted from an exercise as coastguard teams from Scarborough, Burniston and Ravens-car began a search of the area. As the RAF helicopter approached, the man’s frantic wife was able to help coastguards direct it to where he was lying at the bottom of the cliff.
Astonishingly, his injuries were not found to be life-threatening. The man was made stable by the helicopter crew before being taken to Scarborough Hospital for treatment. The dog was last night in the care of a local vet.
Humber Coastguard’s watch manager, Mike Puplett, warned other dog walkers not to take similar risks on behalf of their pets.
“This gentleman fell approximately 200 feet after attempting to rescue his dog,” Mr Puplett said. “Although we understand people are very fond of their pets, we would like to warn them it is extremely dangerous to climb or descend cliffs in an attempt to rescue pets.
“We have had very high winds in the area, making the cliff edges even more treacherous.
“The message is clear – always keep dogs on leads when in the vicinity of cliffs.”