Thomas Meyer and Julie Schatz said in a statement released to Australian media that the family had become stuck in deep snow while skiing in a narrow valley between two runs. They were unhurt but called mountain rescue to help them out. It is unclear how they ended up in the valley and why they were off piste.
“In the process of the ski patrol trying to reach us by skiing down from above us on the opposite side of the valley, an avalanche was triggered which engulfed us and tragically led to the death of our son Max,” they said in the statement.
They say their son, Max Meyer, was buried under two metres of snow as the rescuers tried to reach them. They added that they were grateful for the support of Austrian authorities and the best efforts of rescuers to resuscitate Max.
However, the St Anton mountain rescue manager, Kurt Huett, has said the circumstances are still being investigated.
“The incident is still being investigated by the authorities, so we need to be patient – at the moment we really can’t say anything,” he told ABC.
The avalanche happened late in the afternoon on Wednesday 9th January. The teenager had been skiing off-piste in the Austrian resort with his parents and younger brother. According to the medical rescue team the group had no avalanche rescue equipment. The medical rescue team, Bergrettung St Anton am Arlberg, has confirmed in a social media post that the avalanche occurred after the family made a distress call and as rescuers began searching for them in extremely steep terrain, the slide happened, burying the mother and son.
The mother was able to free herself and was unharmed, but Max was buried under 2 metres of snow for between 20 and 30 minutes. The coroner is said to have told his parents that he died instantly and that his death was painless.