Croydon man dies in ski accident after full speed crash into snow cannon on Austrian slope

St Anton pic: Johnfmh

Scene of the accident – St Anton Pic: Johnfmh

A 23-year-old skier from Croydon has died in Austria after crashing into a snow cannon.

Aleksander Owens-Thurston lost control on a high-difficulty slope and flew 40ft through the air, smashing into the arm of the machine. He was not wearing a helmet.

A doctor, who was amongst a group of skiers attending the scene, performed CPR on the young man, but later called for an emergency helicopter and Owens-Thurston was pronounced dead at the scene.

The University of Surrey graduate and resident of Coulsdon in Croydon was holidaying with his family in St Anton in the Tyrol.

His mother Agneaska, 48, told the police that her son had a helmet but had left it behind in his hotel room on the day of the accident.

An Austrian police spokesman, Markus Maier, said: “He had been alone when the accident happened. He was not wearing a crash helmet and was on piste Number 25, which is categorised as a black run and therefore difficult.”

“He was at a height of roughly 1,700m when he lost control on the slope and ended up sliding for 130ft, before shooting into the air at the side of the ski run. He went about 43ft through the air and hit his head against the arm of an artificial snow cannon at full speed.”

Local police said that the artificial snow cannons are 10ft in the air and normally not a hazard to skiers.

Artificial snow cannons are being used more frequently on Austrian ski resorts, due to the increase in warm weather resulting in less real snowfall.

A Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said: “We are aware of the death of a British national, in Austria on February 24.”

“We stand ready to provide consular assistance should the family request it.”

Aleksander’s death follows the news that two Briton’s died in separate skiing incidents in the Swiss Alps earlier this month. Chris Longbottom, a 39-year-old Londoner, died in an avalanche in Col de Forclaz on Sunday. An unnamed 65-year-old man suffered a head trauma while skiing in Vercorin the following day.


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