Winchester boy killed in avalanche is named

10:06am Thursday 19th December 2013

A HAMPSHIRE schoolboy who died when he and his father were swept away by an avalanche as his brother watched in horror has been named.

Cameron Bespolka, 16, from Winchester was one of triplets holidaying in the luxury resort of Lech am Arlberg in Austria with their city banker father Kevin Bespolka, 51.

Austrian authorities investigating the incident confirmed the boy died at the scene after becoming engulfed in the avalanche from which his dad was pulled out alive.

He suffered serious injuries and was airlifted to hospital in the nearby town of Feldkirch where he is being treated.

The boy's triplet brother Nicholas was uninjured because he was following slightly behind. Their sister Megan and mother Corinne were not with them.

It has been reported that the brothers and their dad were taking part in an off-piste skiing lesson with an experienced instructor when the ridge of snow fell at 1.30pm on Tuesday.

Rescuers confirmed the father and son's avalanche air bags both activated when they were covered by the snow but could not prevent them from being buried.

The 39-year-old instructor, who suffered minor injuries, surfaced from the snow and immediately raised the alarm before trying to dig out the pair.

Police say the he faces a criminal investigation over charges of “negligence leading to serious injury with fatal consequences”, as the route is believed to have been unauthorised.

A police spokeswoman said: “It will be investigated if he could have or should have avoided the accident.

“He was a guide, so there should have been no problem. The whole group was properly equipped with avalanche equipment.”

Forecasters had issued a category one avalanche warning in the region - meaning there was a very low risk.

Pia Herbst, from the Lech am Arlberg Tourism Board, defended the guide, who has worked there for nearly 20 years.

She said: “He has the highest level of education you can have in skiing and he didn't do anything wrong.

“It was a normal day to go for a tour, and unfortunately it was an accident with avalanche risk 'one', which is not high at all. Still something can happen.

“It was a very, very sad accident.”

The family were staying in the four-star Haldenhof Hotel in Lech.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: “We can confirm the death of a British national on December 17 in Austria.

“We are providing consular assistance to the family at this difficult time.”

Royal death Lech am Arlberg is in Austria's Vorarlberg state, which is a popular skiing area in west of the country.

It is the same resort where 43-year-old Dutch prince Johan Friso, second son of Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands, was gravely injured after skiing off-piste with a guide two years ago. He was buried under snow for 20 minutes and never recovered consciousness. He was in a coma for a year and a half before he died.

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