UK & World News
British Snowboarder Dies After Alps Crash
A British student has died after a snowboarding accident in the French Alps, her family has said.
Emily Watts, known as Mimi, fell headfirst into a snowdrift and was stuck for about 45 minutes following the accident in Chamonix on Saturday.
By the time emergency crews arrived, the 26-year-old, from Lavenham in Suffolk, had suffered a cardiac arrest, prompting fears of brain damage.
Her parents, Nicky McAllister and Dominic Watts, along with her 27-year-old brother Rory, flew to France to be by her bedside.
But after a number of days on a life support machine, she died earlier on Thursday, Miss Watts' aunt Shona Pollock said.
Ms Pollock said the family had been "consumed with grief" since the accident.
She described Miss Watts as a "fabulous, outgoing character, plucky, and someone who loved the mountains" and as a "thoroughly positive, optimistic, lovely girl".
Miss Watts was in the Grands Montets, the largest pisted skiing area in the Chamonix Valley, on the first day of the season when the accident happened.
Nobody else was believed to have been involved in the crash.
The family met rescuers this week to establish what had happened, and found out a British man had raised the alarm.
"She was at the edge of the piste where the snow was compacted and safe, but caught an edge and was catapulted into a 70cm pile of powder," a statement released by the family before Miss Watts' death said.
"From the middle of the piste it was impossible to see her unless you were within two metres of the accident site.
"Luckily a British man saw a mark in the snow as he skied past, stopped and ran back up the slope to check it out," it said, adding the family was "extremely grateful" to the man.
Miss Watts was evacuated to hospital in nearby Annecy before being transferred to a specialist unit.
French police were unable to notify the family for a day as she was not wearing any identification, Ms Pollock said.
An experienced snowboarder, Miss Watts had been in France for a few weeks and was working at the resort, her aunt said.
She attended a local convent in Bury St Edmunds and was due to begin a masters degree course in design, according to Ms Pollock.