Scottish Tourist Grateful for Icelandic Rescue Skip to content

Scottish Tourist Grateful for Icelandic Rescue

The Scottish woman who was lost in a blizzard with her son on Langjökull glacier for hours on Sunday evening said in an interview with the Icelandic media yesterday that she hardly has words to describe how thankful she is for the search and rescue efforts.

From a different glacier tour. Photo by Páll Stefánsson.

“When I was told that 300 people were looking for us I hardly believed it,” Betata Morzine Scott told Morgunbladid. “They saved our lives. I was exhausted and cold. I was about to give up and I don’t know in what kind of condition they would have found me the next morning.”

Scott, who is originally from Poland but has lived in Edinburgh for the past 20 years, and her son Jeremy were on a ski-doo tour with a group of 20 travelers.

The tour was organized by the Icelandic travel agency Snowmobile.is. The weather suddenly took a turn for the worse and Scott and Jeremy lost sight of their traveling companions.

Scott’s reactions were absolutely right and admirable considering she doesn’t have much experience with hiking or glacier tours. “I’m not even in a good shape but common sense and concern for Jeremy guided my actions.”

The mother and son were last in a line of ski-doos when they got lost. The engine had died shortly before but was reignited by one of the guides. The group rode up a hill and then turned left but Scott missed the turn.

“Everyone rushed by and we watched the group disappear. We shouted and waved but they just kept going,” Scott described. She panicked, was scared and angry at herself for missing the turn. “Then I thought: they must come back.” They also tried to drive back onto the main path but then the engine died again and wouldn’t restart.

Scott said she and Jeremy had considered walking and trying to find help. “But only for a second. Where were we supposed to go?” Because of the blizzard, the visibility was extremely poor. “Jeremy cried and me too. Then we calmed down and convinced ourselves the group would return shortly.”

They sat on the ski-doo for a while but then the wind picked up speed. Together they managed to flip the vehicle to shelter them from the wind. Scott found it important that they kept themselves busy. “So I said to Jeremy: Come, let’s make a snow house.”

They made a wall of snow to the side of the ski-doo and filled all holes with snow to make a better shelter. “I broke the windbreaker off and used it to shovel snow but then the wind blew it out of my hands,” Scott described.

Then she broke the hood off and stuck it into the snow to improve the shelter. “It was all about finding something we could use. I knew there was supposed to be some stuff in the compartment underneath the seat but it was locked.”

The sun emerged for a while and then the mother and son became hopeful again but all hope was shattered when they heard a helicopter hovering above them, jumped and screamed but didn’t get any reaction.

Scott had become cold and exhausted and had been lying on top of her son for a long time to keep him warm when they were found by the search and rescue crew. “I didn’t notice them until I felt someone grab me. Then someone asked: ‘Are you alright? Are you conscious? Is the boy alright?’ Then I heard other voices.”

Scott wouldn’t comment much on the travel agency that organized the tour but told the media about her experience of a ski-doo tour near Kiruna in Sweden two years ago. “We were given better gloves there,” she said. “We were also given thick woolen socks and snowshoes. Here we wore our own thin socks and shoes.”

Nikulás Thorvardarson at Snowmobile.is said frequent stops had been made during the 1.5 kilometer drive to the cars to make sure the group of 20 tourists stuck together but the weather worsened unusually fast.

“I’ve been on the glacier for many years and I’ve never experienced something like this,” Thorvardarson said, adding it is positive that the District Commissioner of Selfoss is planning to investigate the accident.

Scott suffered frostbite on her hands but was otherwise unharmed physically, although she is still recovering mentally from the ordeal. Jeremy was unharmed and was in the Blue Lagoon with his father and brother while his mother was interviewed by Morgunbladid.

Her husband, Mike Scott, criticized the travel agency for not having warned the tourists about the upcoming snowstorm. The tour should have been canceled, he said, according to ruv.is.

He had not noticed that his wife and son were missing until the group had reached the cars and the guides weren’t aware of that until Scott told them. Then guides tried to find the lost travelers in vain.

Click here to read more about this story and here to watch an interview with the Scotts on Icelandic television last night.

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