A SECOND hillwalker who was among a group of three elderly men rescued in the Southern Uplands has died.
Geoffrey Stewart, 74, from Dumfries, died in hospital on Wednesday after spending a night lost in the Lowther hills.
Walking companion George Crosbie, 73, also died.
Their friend Bobby Thomson, 64, was treated for hypothermia and is recovering in Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary.
A large-scale search involving police and mountain rescue teams was launched for the three pensioners after they failed to return from a walk on Tuesday afternoon. They were found 2½ miles east of the village of Durisdeer on Wednesday and airlifted to hospital.
Police confirmed shortly afterwards that Mr Crosbie, from Dumfries, had died.
Mr Stewart, also from Dumfries, died in hospital on Wednesday night.
His family have thanked rescuers involved in the search.
In a statement, they said: “Our family would like to extend our love and thoughts to the families involved at this very sad and tragic time.
“Sincere gratitude and appreciation goes out to all the services involved in the rescue efforts and hospital staff at Dumfries and Galloway Royal Infirmary.”
A search involving 16 members of the Moffat Mountain Rescue Team (MRT) and two rescue dogs scoured the hills for the men overnight after they were reported missing.
However, teams were forced to abandon the mission due to torrential rain, snow, strong winds and a lack of visibility.
The search resumed on Wednesday, with more than 50 people and a Coastguard helicopter taking part.
The men were found later that afternoon and airlifted to hospital in Dumfries.
“The weather, although OK during the day, deteriorated rapidly overnight,” said Colin Golphin, leader of Moffat Mountain Rescue Team.
“The team searched the hills during the night in extremely poor conditions.
“Our condolences are with the family of the walkers who died.”
The trio were said to be experienced walkers who were familiar with the area.
Meanwhile, the families of two climbers missing on Ben Nevis since the weekend have said they remain hopeful the couple will be found.
Rachel Slater, 24, and Tim Newton, 27, failed to return from a Valentine’s Day outing on the UK’s highest peak last weekend.
In a statement, relations said: “We are extremely grateful to members of the emergency services and search and rescue personnel searching for Rachel and Tim.
“The overwhelming response from the public and the climbing community has greatly assisted the search effort and we appreciate all the support and words of encouragement.” They added: “As the search continues we remain hopeful Rachel and Tim will be found and reunited with their families and friends.”
Ground searches have been suspended since Wednesday because of treacherous conditions, but a coastguard helicopter resumed air patrols yesterday.
Elsewhere, one of two men airlifted after an avalanche on Creag Meagaidh has died. The other is in a serious condition.