The father of a six-year-old Spanish boy who died on Wednesday in the Swiss Alps is claiming his son's death was caused by serious negligence.

"/> The father of a six-year-old Spanish boy who died on Wednesday in the Swiss Alps is claiming his son's death was caused by serious negligence.

" />
SHARE
COPY LINK

ACCIDENT

Avalanche victim’s parents to sue ski resort

The father of a six-year-old Spanish boy who died on Wednesday in the Swiss Alps is claiming his son's death was caused by serious negligence.

The man, named as José, had planned to spend some days skiing with his wife and child in Saas-Fee in the south-east of the country, but what was intended as a pleasant winter break ended in tragedy.

“We came for holidays and we are going back to Spain with our child in a coffin,” he told news agency EFE.

The accident took place at an altitude of 2,900 meters while the six-year-old boy was training with a ski instructor. The avalanche, 100 meters wide and 300 long, covered him completely. Resort officials and police from canton Vaud said on Thursday that it took rescuers 45 minutes to find the child.

However, José, who wants to keep his surname private, disagrees with the official version of events. He said he will sue the ski resort because he believes his son’s life could have been saved.

According to his account, the child was buried under the snowslide for at least an hour and a half.

His calculations are based on the fact that he left his son and the instructor at the chair lift at 10.05am. Fifteen minutes later, he took the lift himself.

While going up the mountainside, José saw that an avalanche had taken place but didn’t attach much importance to it, thinking it had probably happened during the night. The official avalanche alert was not activated until 11.45am, which he believes was more than an hour after it occurred. His son was not found until after midday.

“I even skied in the area where the avalanche had taken place, and I did not see anyone taking special [safety] measures,” he said. “What surprised me was the fact that I did not see them, so I thought they probably stayed at a lower altitude because there was bad weather and a lot of wind.”

When found by rescuers, José’s son was brought to the University Hospital of Vaud, in Lausanne. He was still alive at the time but had a body temperature of 14 degrees.

“When I told doctors that his level of hypothermia did not match the amount of time they said my son had been under the snow, they said my version made more sense [than that of the ski resort’s management],” José explained.

Jose’s child died at 11.30pm.

The boy’s instructor survived the first avalanche of the year in the Swiss Alps. She was only partially covered by the snow slide and was found shortly after the accident in good health.

A police investigation is underway.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

AVALANCHE

Weather warning: Part of Swiss Alps placed on high avalanche alert

Due to the heavy snowfall in recent days and more expected until the weekend, an avalanche warning is issued for Switzerland’s southern canton of Valais.

Weather warning: Part of Swiss Alps placed on high avalanche alert
Avalanche warnings should be taken very seriously. Photo by AFP

Valais authorities said the current avalanche risk level is between 4 and 5, meaning ‘high’ to ‘extreme’.

The population is urged to stay at home. When out, they should obey the signs and especially stay away from the avalanche corridors, officials warned.
 

Significant amounts of snow have fallen in the area in recent days, dumping 1 metre of snow above the altitude of 2,000 metres in the upper part of the canton. Between 30 and 40 centimetres are still expected. 

The highest risk of avalanches is in the Goms valley, the Zermatt valley, as well as the entire right bank of the Rhône. 

Some particularly threatened areas could even be evacuated, authorities said.

People planning to go skiing in Valais over the next few days should check snow conditions and avalanche warnings in place, especially as many roads, mainly in Upper Valais, are cut off, and a number of villages in the Goms Valley, Lötschental and the Zermatt region are no longer accessible by road or train. 

The Avalanche Bulletin is a good source of information not just for Valais, but for all of Switzerland’s mountain regions.

READ MORE: Is the pandemic to blame for Switzerland's spate of avalanche deaths? 

Avalanches have been particularly deadly in Switzerland this winter, having claimed 14 lives so far — well above the average yearly figure of eight people.

Avalanches have caused casualties in the mountains of Valais, Vaud, Graubünden, Obwalden and Schwyz. 

With many people concerned about the potential for contracting coronavirus on the slopes, the idea of skiing off piste has become more attractive. 

But this practice can trigger massive avalanches, so it is crucial to stay away from unsecured slopes.

READ MORE: Large crowds on Swiss ski slopes spark concern over coronavirus spread 

 

 
 

 

 

 
 

 

SHOW COMMENTS