Tragedy strikes as British skier hit by avalanche

An experienced skier has died after being buried by an avalanche in the French Alps – the second British man to die in an accident in the region in less than a week.

David Robinson and his wife Chrissy were enjoying a skiing holiday in the resort of Val D'Isere when they became trapped under the snow on Boxing Day.

Mrs Robinson was rescued after she inflated a safety airbag, enabling a search team to find her quickly, but her husband was unable to do the same.

He was found because of a transceiver device which emits a pulse signal.

After rescue he was airlifted to hospital in Grenoble.

Mr Robinson, a former Olympic sailing coach, reportedly suffered a heart attack as he spent about 20 minutes under the snow before he was freed.

The couple, from Hamble, near Southampton, Hampshire, had been skiing with friends when the accident happened.

Their Canadian ski guide, Wayne Watson, said Mr Robinson, who had retired from his sail-making company, died on Monday with his wife and best friend by his side.

Mr Watson described the incident as a "tragic accident".

"I was out with six clients who all had beepers and all had airbags with them," he said.

"They were regular clients who knew the business well. It was one of those things. I have been doing this for about 30 years and we ski off-piste seven days a week.

"There are times when the mountains just let go. It was a tragic accident. We try our best to keep people safe.

"David was a great guy. I had known him for at least 10 years. He will be sadly missed. It was just dreadful."

He added that Mrs Robinson had shown "amazing" strength and, on the night of his death, had toasted his life with his favourite wines.

"Chrissy's really quite amazing," said Mr Watson. "She made me feel a whole lot better. I have never seen anyone quite like her."

Mrs Robinson will be staying in France to finalise arrangements for her husband's body to be returned to the UK, he added.

Mr Robinson is the second British skier to die in the French Alps during the Christmas period, following 63-year-old John Atkinson.

Mr Atkinson was on holiday with his wife and children when he crashed into a rock in the resort of Les Deux Alpes on December 23.

A spokeswoman for the police in Les Deux Alpes said the family, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, were in "shock" and too upset to talk about what happened.

She added: "It was snowing and the visibility was not good. He crashed into a rock."

A third tragedy occurred when a man died after falling 80 feet while ice-climbing a frozen waterfall on Boxing Day.

Dave Church, of Shildon, County Durham, had been climbing with a companion on Howgill Fell, near Kirkby Stephen, on the border between the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales.

The area is a rocky gully called Cautley Spout, which is normally a vertical waterfall from the top of the fell, but had frozen over making it ideal for ice climbing practice.