TRIBUTES TO PISTEUR KILLED IN AVALANCHE
19th February 2019
Tributes to 34-year-old Mathieu Labrunie pour in as an investigation into the avalanche that swept across a piste continues in Crans-Montana. UPDATED
“The emotion is long among the professionals of the slopes after an avalanche of such magnitude on an open and crowded track,” said Thierry Meyer, the President of the organisation.
“Mathieu was there on foot… without any possibility of escaping. Just in the wrong place and at the wrong time… he pays with his life.”
“On behalf of all the professionals of the safety of the slopes and the rescue workers, I would like to send to the family and those close to Mathieu ….our deepest condolences. Your Passion, your dedication, your skills will forever remain in our memories.”
Employees are being invited to wear a black armband for a week.
The company has set up a fund to support the patroller’s family.
He was quickly recovered but died early on Wednesday morning.
Mathieu Labrunie’s colleague and the injured person escaped with minor physical injuries.
On Thursday morning the police said two of the injured had been discharged from hospital while the third continues to be treated.
All work at the scene of the avalanche has now concluded.
“CMA’s management and all employees are deeply affected by this event and wish to express their deepest feelings of respect and compassion to the rescuer’s family and loved ones,” the company said in the statement published on the Crans Montana Facebook page.
He had worked in Crans Montana since 2010.
“He had a passion for the region and especially for rescuing people in the alpine environment,” the statement said.
“He was highly appreciated by his team and the entire company for his human and professional qualities.”
The avalanche happened on Tuesday afternoon in the Plaine Morte area of the Swiss resort.
Rescuers were on the scene within minutes.
The avalanche was at the bottom of the Kandahar slope at a spot known as ‘Passage du Major’.
It appears to have been triggered higher up and came over a cliff and down onto the piste.
Those struck would have received little warning.
“We heard a loud noise. After, there was a huge avalanche. I have never seen a 1.5-metre-4 metre high avalanche in my life. It was just impressive. We were almost left behind too. It was a close call,” Martial, a 40-year-old skier, told the 20Minutes news site.
That terrifying moment as the avalanche engulfs many around you... https://t.co/WEQ3UEiJw4
Video: RT @alexisramu #CransMontana #CransMontanaAvalanche #braveskier#CransMontana pic.twitter.com/zAHrrj2JPG
— PlanetSKI Snow News (@planetski) February 20, 2019
At a news conference on Tuesday night the Valais police confirmed that 4 people had been injured, 1 critically.
They were airlifted to Sion Hospital by helicopter.
There were reports that others were believed buried, though the authorities would not speculate on how many people may have been caught up in the avalanche.
A search continued overnight on Tuesday but was called off on Wednesday morning with the authorities satisfied everyone had been accounted for.
“What’s important for the intervention teams is that we do everything we can to verify whether or not people remain buried under the avalanche. That’s our main priority,” said a statement from the resort on Tuesday.
“The second is to take care of the families of the injured the best that we can,” it added.
400 metres of the piste were buried in the busy holiday week when the resort is near capacity – 8,000 people were out sking on the slopes of Crans-Montana on Tuesday.
The police say the avalanche was 840 metres long and 100 metres wide.
Almost 250 people were involved in the search including the army who were in the resort helping prepare for this weekend’s women’s World Cup races.
Eight helicopters were deployed.
“Witnesses have said that other people may be buried, and the search continues with considerable resources,” local police commander Christian Varone said at the press conference on Tuesday evening.
The police opened an emergency hotline for people seeking information – 00 41 848 112 117
“We are in shock and we hope for a positive outcome for these people,”said the Crans-Montana President Nicolas Féraud.
The American ski racer, Mikaela Shiffrin, tweeted that she would not be in Crans Montana for the racing this weekend, but her thoughts were with all those affected.
My prayers and love go out to those affected by the recent avalanche at @cransmontana. I can’t even imagine the heartache these families are experiencing. It’s not in my plan to compete at this weekend’s @fisalpine World Cup, but I’ll be there in spirit and thinking of you all.â¤ï¸
— Mikaela Shiffrin (@MikaelaShiffrin) February 20, 2019
Laura Lugon Zugravu was close by when the avalanche took place and shared the following photograph and video via Twitter.
Avalanche à Crans Montana sur la piste de Plaine Morte. Il y aurait des skieurs ensevelis pic.twitter.com/YgsCqXQMrt
— Laure Lugon Zugravu (@LaureLugon) February 19, 2019
Darius Rochebin took the following video of the avalanched area and shared it on Twitter.
La vidéo d’Alexis Desfayes, qui était sur place quelques instants après l’avalanche de Crans-Montana, et qui donne idée de son ampleur. Nous serons en direct ce soir au #19h30RTS pic.twitter.com/xZAEkBFuT1
— Darius Rochebin (@DariusRochebin) February 19, 2019
The video below is courtesy of Le Nouvelliste (facebook):
The avalanche risk at the time was 2 on a scale of 5.
The means there is a “moderate” risk.
“A generally favourable avalanche situation will prevail,” said a forecast on Tuesday for Crans-Montana from the Swiss Avalanche Institute.
An investigation into the accident is continuing and other slopes have been inspected.
“It is rare for an avalanche to hit the piste and certainly one of this size,” said the PlanetSKI editor, James Cove, who knows the resort well.
“Sincee 1996 there have been five similar incidents in Switzerland where an avalanche has come across a piste and they have resulted in a total of five deaths.”
“From the videos and photos I have seen it appears to have started spontaneously high up above the piste and then picked up a lot of snow as it got going.”
“There were huge snowfalls in the resort in January when PlanetSKI visited.”
“All potential avalanche areas near the pistes are mapped and closely observed – clearly something has gone very wrong here.”
“There have also been very warm temperatures in the past few days and this will have made the snow wet and heavy and is one of the factors the investigators will be looking at.”
Here at PlanetSKI we will be updating this article as we get more information.
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