In Depth

British snowboarder suffocates after falling head-first into snow

The 25-year-old was working at the French Alps resort of Meribel, reports say

A British snowboarder has died in the French Alps after after falling head-first into a snow drift.

Reports say the 25-year-old man, who has not been named, was working in the resort of Meribel in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region of France.

The French newspaper Le Dauphine Libere says emergency services were called following reports of a snowboarder falling off-piste.

“The man is believed to have died by asphyxiation, not being able to release himself after having fallen headfirst into the snow,” the paper said. An investigation has been launched, it added.

A spokesman for the Alps mountain rescue told the Press Association it was difficult to say how long he may have been stuck, but estimated it could have been as long as half an hour.

“The snowboarder was alone when he fell,” he said. “He was spotted by two witnesses skiing nearby who noticed a snowboard sticking out of the snow about 20m from the piste.

“They then realised that someone might be attached to the board.”

The two witness had attempted to call for help before trying to reach the young man themselves and lift him out of the snow.

“It was very difficult for them,” the spokesman said. “He was buried up to his pelvis and the snow was very heavy, very compacted.”

Mountain rescue services arrived within minutes but the snowboarder was already in cardiac arrest.

Asphyxiation “is the most common cause of death if a person is caught in an avalanche,” says The Times.

At the time of the Brit’s death, the risk level was set at three out of five, said to be “considerable”, but “early indications do not suggest he was caught in a snowslide”, the paper adds.

Meribel “is where Formula 1 legend Michael Schumacher hit his head and fell into a coma in 2013”, says HuffPost.

The French Alps “have claimed the lives of more than 30 people this winter, with skiers facing repeated warnings not to go off-piste due to the danger of snow slides”, says Newsweek.

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