Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Irish man among three people killed after helicopter crash in the Swiss Alps

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The man, from the Co Dublin area and believed to be in his 30s, died on Tuesday morning when the helicopter taking six people to the summit of the Petit Combin mountain crashed and slid down the northern slope of the mountain.

Three people died and three others were injured in the accident, Swiss Police confirmed. In addition to the pilot, the helicopter was occupied by a mountain guide and four skiers, police said.

The pilot – local father-of-two Jerome Lovey – died in the crash, along with their guide Adam George, originally from New Hampshire in the United States, along with the Irish man.

A spokesperson for the Department of Foreign Affairs said it was aware of the case and stood ready to provide consular assistance to the man’s family.

Today’s News in 90 seconds – 4th April 2024

The three men who survived the crash are brothers from Britain, Teddy and Guy Hitchens, and Edward Courage, a fellow British man. The Telegraph newspaper reports Courage saved the lives of Teddy and Guy by pushing them from the helicopter as it slid down the mountain after an avalanche took place.

Courage was later found in a crevasse 30m deep and is receiving treatment for a number of injuries. In his seventies, and of the Courage Brewery family, Edward plunged an estimated 500m down a near vertical slope, was swept by the avalanche, and then fell 30m into a crevasse.

He and the two other Britons survived. The Hitchens brothers ended up close to each other despite falling a long way after the helicopter crash.

While emergency services swiftly recovered the brothers from under the snow, Mr Courage was stranded on a ledge in the crevasse for five hours before he was located thanks to a transceiver and winched up to safety.

Teddy and Guy’s parents, Richard and Maeve, told the Telegraph: “Our thoughts are with the families for their appalling losses.

“Ted was released from hospital today on crutches. Guy is still in hospital. No operations currently required but severely beaten up and bed-bound.”

The Valais cantonal police said: “Around 9:25 am, a B3 type helicopter crashed at the Petit Combin mountain landing site during a heliski drop-off. Having reached the summit of this mountain culminating at 3,668 meters above sea level, for a reason that the investigation will have to determine, the aircraft slid down the northern slope”.

A total of seven rescue helicopters converged on the crash site. Two injured people were quickly treated before being airlifted to Sion hospital. A third person was subsequently also rescued from a crevasse.

The three other occupants of the helicopter – including the Irish skier – were found dead at the scene.

The SESE (Swiss Safety Investigation Service) opened a safety investigation to determine the causes of the accident.

The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPC), responsible for aviation accidents, is responsible for the criminal investigation in collaboration with Federal Police and the Valais cantonal police.

A skier who arrived at the summit shortly after the incident reported seeing an avalanche and told the Telegraph: “We landed after them on the south side of Le Petit Combin and saw the avalanche. It was horrific. We couldn’t make out the helicopter, it was consumed in the avalanche. We heard of the crash over the radio. We were advised to get safely off the mountain.”

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