The Deux Alpes ski resort in France is dealing with the aftermath of a serious avalanche which caused the death of at least three people, including two teenagers, according to local news source Le Dauphiné Liberé.
A group of 10 high school students from Lyon, their teacher, and a Ukrainian man who was not part of the group were skiing on a closed run in the Isère ski resort when the deadly avalanche hit.
Two students, age 14 and 16, were killed during the incident. The Ukrainian man, age 57, was skiing separately from the group but was killed from the avalanche as well.
According to BuzzFeed News, three additional students and the accompanying teacher were seriously injured and taken to a hospital near Grenoble. Officials now believe that the teacher, who has not yet been identified, took the “initiative” to lead the group down a path which was “not suitable for beginners or high schoolers.”
The surviving students have all been taken home safely, but the teacher remains in the hospital with “multiple broken bones” and is being investigated for having taken the students on a closed path.
The Inquisitr reported that the students were on a closed ski run on the north-facing side of the mountain when the Alps avalanche began at an altitude of 9,100 feet. The students were likely skiing at an altitude of around 7,800 feet.
The avalanche, which spanned an area 65 feet wide and 1,000 feet long, possibly buried as many as 20 people on the slopes. An extensive rescue mission is currently underway, involving 30 mountain rescue workers, two police helicopters, one emergency rescue helicopter, and several rescue dogs.
New York State may not see the same number of skiers that France gets (which happens to be about 55 million skier days per year) but there are still several locations for cross-country and downhill skiing during the winter. Here are a few safety tips to keep in mind while you’re out on the slopes:
- It’s important to make sure that all equipment fits properly and is cleaned well. Ski boots should be the appropriate size and should fit snugly when worn with warm wool socks.
- Photokeratitis, or “snow blindness,” can occur when sunlight reflects off bright white snow. It’s important to have goggles to protect against the wind and any blowing snow/ice, and these goggles should also come with UV ray protection just like your summer sunglasses.
- Dress in layers! Breathable or sweat-wicking thermals will keep your body dry and warm even while you’re skiing and sweating, while wind- and water-resistant outerwear will shield you from the cold.
- Remember that if you’re skiing in a large group (especially with kids), don’t rely solely on your cell phone to get in touch; reception often cuts out when you’re skiing on big slopes. Instead, determine a place and time to meet up before you part ways.
- Always pay attention to posted signs and avoid trails that have been closed.