independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Highlands avalanche victims named

Christopher William Bell, 24, from Blackpool, was a student studying for a PHD in Ocean Mapping in Oban

Two Phd students and a junior doctor were among four people killed in an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands.

Una Rachel Finnegan, 25, from County Antrim, Northern Ireland, Christopher William Bell, 24, from Blackpool, Lancashire, and Tom Chesters, 28, who was living in Leeds, were killed while walking near Glencoe on Saturday, Northern Constabulary said.

Ms Finnegan was a junior doctor who had been living in Edinburgh, Mr Bell was studying for a Phd in ocean mapping in Oban and Mr Chesters was a Phd student at Hull University.

A second woman was also killed in the accident, although her next of kin have asked for her name to be withheld until her extended family have been informed.

A 24-year-old woman from the Durham area remains in critical condition in hospital. Another man survived the incident, but has asked for his name to be withheld.

The party were experienced hillwalkers who were said to have been well equipped for their winter trek across Bidean Nam Bian, a mountain near Glencoe.

The group started their descent down a steep incline on the south side of the valley at around 2pm on Saturday, when a sheet of snow gave way beneath them and carried them 1,000ft to the bottom of the mountain at speeds estimated to be up to 50mph. All of the missing climbers were found within four hours of the alarm being raised.

The woman has been moved to the Southern General in Glasgow and remains in a critical condition, Northern Constabulary said. Members of her family were with her.

The only walker to escape relatively unharmed jumped free of the collapsing sheet of snow and hammered an ice axe into firmer ground.

In a statement released earlier, he spoke of his "sadness and deep regret" at the loss of his friends. He said: "All in the group loved the mountains and are experienced winter walkers. My sincere thanks go to members of the public, mountain rescue teams and other emergency services who assisted."

Press Association

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