FATAL AVALANCHE ACCIDENTALLY TRIGGERED
15th January 2019 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
The parents of a teenager who died in St Anton last week say the slide happened as rescuers triggered the slides as they made their way to help the family.
Thomas Meyer and Julie Schatz said in a statement released to Australian media that the family had become stuck in deep snow while skiing in a narrow valley between two runs.
They were unhurt but called mountain rescue to help them out.
It is unclear how they ended up in the valley and why they were off piste.
They say their son, Max Meyer, was buried under two metres of snow as the rescuers tried to reach them.
“In the process of the ski patrol trying to reach us by skiing down from above us on the opposite side of the valley, an avalanche was triggered which engulfed us and tragically led to the death of our son Max,” they said in the statement.
They added that they were grateful for the support of Austrian authorities and the best efforts of rescuers to resuscitate Max who was buried for at least 20 minutes.
However, the St Anton mountain rescue manager, Kurt Huett, has said the circumstances are still being examined.
“The incident is still being investigated by the authorities, so we need to be patient – at the moment we really can’t say anything,” he told ABC.
The avalanche happened late in the afternoon on Wednesday 9th January.
The Australian teenager, a pupil at the International Grammar School in Sydney, had been skiing off-piste in the Austrian resort with his parents and younger brother.
According to the medical rescue team the group had no avalanche rescue equipment.
In the statement Thomas Meyer and Julie Schatz said they called for help after getting stuck in deep snow and were told to stay where they were and wait to be rescued.
“Due to the depth of the snow, we considered it safer not to try to walk out, but to contact the ski patrol for advice and so that they would know our location.”
They said: “At that point in time, we were uninjured, and in no immediate danger.”
The medical rescue team, Bergrettung St Anton am Arlberg, has confirmed in a social media post that the avalanche occurred after the family made a distress call.
As rescuers began searching for them in extremely steep terrain, the slide happened, burying the mother and son.
The post says the mother was able to free herself and was unharmed.
It says Max was buried under 2 metres of snow for between 20 and 30 minutes.
The coroner is said to have told his parents that he died instantly and that his death was painless.
“We can find no words to express how much and how deeply Max was loved by us, and by so many others,” the family said in the statement.
“Whilst this is obviously a profoundly difficult time for us, the support from our family and friends and from the International Grammar School community has meant a great deal.”
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