Local Accident Statistics
In 2011, 151 people were killed in the Swiss Alps and the Jura during sporting activities. The increase is 22% over the previous year. According to the Swiss Alpine Club (SAC), 2644 people found themselves in an emergency and had to be rescued.
The total number of deaths is 217 (173 in 2010) when taking into account illness (47 cases), mostly due to a cardiovascular problem, explained the CAS. When practicing mountain sports in the strictest sense, 151 people were killed in 135 accidents. These figures do not include fatal cases of hang gliding, paragliding, speed-flying, base-jumping or mountain biking.
More Climbers Dead
The increase in deaths was observed for mountaineering (33), hiking (64) and snowshoeing (7). The proportion of foreigners is 18% when trekking, while mountaineering, with 29 people, the proportion of foreigners is 88%. The number of deaths has decreased when back-country skiing (21) and for rock climbing (3).
In total, 2644 people where involved in an emergency and had to be rescued in 2011. This represents an increase of 9%. During the rescue, 996 persons were healthy or slightly injured. The largest number of emergency was recorded in cross-country, downhill and backcountry skiing.
The evolution of death is strongly influenced by weather conditions. The beautiful periods in spring and autumn have significantly extended the period of mountain hiking. The months of August, July and March were the deadliest.
The main cause of fatal accidents has been falling (110 victims). The greatest number of deaths occurred in falls while hiking (56). Avalanches have killed 27 people.
Prosecutor Wants 5 year Ban for ESF (Ecole du Ski Francais) Instructors
View online story at the following link:
Two ski instructors from the Ecole du Ski Français are threatened with a 5 year ban and suspended prison sentences in a manslaughter trial at Albertville court this week. Readers of PisteHors will remember the avalanche on the 31st December 2009 in Orelle which cost the life of a client, buried for 15 minutes by an avalanche while skiing off piste.
According to press reports at the time the state prosecutor, Patrick Quincy was “shocked that a pro could take a group into a dangerous area” and that he was “aiming high” in launching a prosecution against the instructors. There was a polemic after claims that the avalanche risk was High (4/5) [Val Thorens/Orelle had the checkered flag showing in resort that day].
The victim was buried while skiing off piste with a group led by Yves Burroni. Another ESF group, led by Benoît Lajournade were skiing some distance above. It was this group of snowboarders that triggered the avalanche.
Patrick Quincy wants to prove that the defendants were negligent by skiing in the bowl. Apart from the avalanche danger the court will want to establish whether each instructor was keeping his group out of the fall line of the other. Quincy told the press that he wants to “start a real debate on off piste skiing that is totally unregulated by highlighting the errors committed by the defendants”. According to Quincy the local ski patrol says the bowl has “a permanent avalanche risk”. The case “is symbolic because it reminds us that off piste skiing, that has developed in a dangerous manner, can be a killer. Even if there are pressures the ski instructors need to remember that they have the lives of human beings in their hands”.
Quincy considers that Mr. Lajournade committed a more serious error than Mr Burroni (there is already case-law in France that climbers are responsible for stones they dislodge on others below). The judgment will be published on the 30th April 2012 but will only form proper case-law if the prosecutor’s opinion is upheld by a more senior court.