A Sydney teenager has died after being “completely buried” in 2 metres of snow by an avalanche while on a family holiday in the Austrian alps yesterday.
- An avalanche buried the 16-year-old while he was on an untracked path in western Austria
- Max Meyer’s mother managed to free herself and was unharmed
- His school in Sydney sent a message to families saying his life had been “tragically cut short”
Max Meyer, 16, was spending the school holidays with his younger brother, mother and father in the ski hub of St Anton am Arlberg.
The Sydney International Grammar School Student was trapped in an area of rough, untracked and steep terrain when the avalanche covered him with 2 metres of snow, police said.
According to police, Max’s mother freed herself and was uninjured, but her son was “completely buried” and trapped for 20 minutes.
Rescuers were unable to revive him.
The mountain rescue unit in St Anton am Arlberg told the ABC that Max was found in the small Steissbach river, near Grampen.
He had been pushed in there under the weight of the avalanche and his body was found in water beneath the snow.
A member of the rescue unit said police were still investigating the cause of death.
The principal of the International Grammar School sent an email to parents and students about Max’s death.
“Max Meyer was about to enter Year 11, and his life has been tragically cut short,” she said.
“I have spoken with Max’s father today and have extended my deepest condolences on behalf of the IGS school community, and offered the family all of our support.
“We will continue to support Max’s family through the coming days and beyond.”
Tributes on social media described the 16-year-old as a “bright, bright boy” who was involved in the robotics programs and was talented in languages.
Classmate Hugh McIntyre described Max as a “buzz to be around”.
“He was always first to participate in initiatives at school and always striving to be more involved,” Mr McIntyre said in a post on Facebook.
“Absolutely heartbreaking. He will [be] missed by all his peers.”
More than a dozen people have been killed in weather-related incidents in Europe in the past week — many of them in avalanches.
In neighbouring Slovakia, the mountain rescue service said a 37-year-old man was killed by an avalanche in the Mala Fatra mountains.
A seven-year-old child was killed in Aying, near Munich, by a falling tree. German news agency dpa reported that police believe the tree was weighed down by snow.
Several railway lines in the Alps were closed because of the snow, trucks and cars got stuck for hours on a highway in south-western Germany and schools were closed in parts of Bavaria.
Roads into several places were closed — although Galtuer in western Austria, where a massive avalanche in 1999 killed 31 people, was reachable again on Thursday after being cut off.
The Austrian minister responsible for tourism, Elisabeth Koestinger, said that “in most skiing areas, there is no reason for concern at present if people keep to the rules and don’t leave the secured slopes”.
Topics: disasters-and-accidents, accidents, austria, australia, sydney-2000, nsw
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