British skier survived 90ft fall down crevasse after avalanche, before being rescued five hours later with two others

British skier survived 90ft fall down crevasse after avalanche, before being rescued five hours later with two others

Watch: Elsewhere in Switzerland, helicopters search for a cross-country skier as five others were found dead

GB News
James Saunders

By James Saunders

Published: 04/04/2024

- 09:09

One of the Britons is thought to have heroically saved the lives of two brothers before tumbling half a kilometre down a mountain

New details have emerged of three Britons who survived the horror helicopter crash in Switzerland this week which killed three others on board.

The crash on Tuesday saw a helicopter carrying a group of skiers crash on Petit Combin, a mountain in the Swiss canton of Valais, before sliding down one of its slopes.

Edward Courage, one of the Britons who survived the accident, is believed to have heroically saved the lives of brothers Teddy and Guy Hitchens by pushing them out of the helicopter as it slid down the mountain.

Aptly-named Courage, who is thought to be in his 70s, tumbled around 500 metres down a near-vertical slope before being swept by an avalanche into a crevasse, where he survived a 30-metre drop onto a ledge.

Swiss helicopter/crevasse

Edward Courage, who was on board the flight, survived a 30-metre drop onto a ledge in a crevasse (file photo)

Valais Police/Wikimedia Commons

The two Hitchens boys also fell a considerable distance down the mountain after the crash, but came to a halt close to each other.

Emergency services were able to recover the brothers from beneath the snow, but Courage was stranded in the crevasse for five hours before being winched up to safety after he was located thanks to signals from his radio transceiver.

Courage, a figure in the English-speaking church community in popular ski destination Verbier and from the Courage brewing family, reportedly sustained a number of broken bones, for which he is undergoing surgery.

The helicopter's pilot, a local father-of-two Jerome Lovey, died in the crash, alongside young skier James Goff and mountain guide Adam George, from New Hampshire in the US.


Petit Combin Mountain

The helicopter crashed at a landing site on Le Petit Combin, a mountain in the Swiss canton of Valais


The Hitchens brothers' parents, Richard and Maeve, said: "Our thoughts are with the families of James, Adam and the pilot 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."

A donation fund has been set up for Adam George's wife, Caroline George-Ware, and daughter, Olivia; George's funeral is set to be held next week.

George-Ware, who co-founded Into the Mountains, the couple's guide company, said: "We had our first date on a climb and got engaged on a summit."

Lovey, the pilot, was also an instructor, and had worked for helicopter tour firm Air-Glaciers since September 2022; an Air-Glaciers statement said: "We are deeply saddened and indescribably affected by this event... Our thoughts are with the families and relatives of the victims."

Valais canton police said: "Having reached the summit of a mountain culminating at 3,668m above sea level, for a reason that the investigation will have to determine, the aircraft slid down the northern slope."

Photos taken in the aftermath of the crash show a number of marks on the mountain - apparently from where the helicopter slid down.

Other skiers said the helicopter was swallowed by the avalanche, and despite debris remaining at the scene, there were no ski tracks leading away from the missing helicopter, which left local guides concerned.

An investigation into the incident has been launched by the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office (MPC), the department responsible for aviation accidents.

A safety probe has also been launched by SESE, the Swiss Safety Investigation Service.

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