independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Family fly to Scotland to bring home body

THE family of a young doctor killed by an avalanche are expected to travel to Scotland today to bring home her body.

Una Finnegan was one of four climbers killed on Bidean Nam Bian in Glencoe on Saturday afternoon.

The group of six were swept away by the avalanche and buried under several feet of snow and ice in the western Highlands.

The 25-year-old, from Coleraine, Co Antrim, was studying medicine at Newcastle University in England having previously studied in Edinburgh.

Ms Finnegan – the daughter of Owen Finnegan, a retired doctor in Coleraine – had a twin sister, two other sisters and brother.

Ms Finnegan's family was too distressed to comment last night. It is understood they will travel to Scotland this morning after her remains were recovered from the mountain.

Two of the other climbers who died were last night named as 24-year-old Christopher Bell, from Blackpool, and Tom Chesters (28), who was living in Leeds.

The four bodies, two men and two women, were recovered following a major search which included two mountain rescue crews and police dogs.

A statement from a man who escaped unscathed was read out at a police media conference yesterday afternoon.

The survivor – who did not want to be named – said: "On Saturday, January 19, 2013, five of my friends and I were descending a mountain in Glencoe, in an area known as Church Door Buttress, when the party was swept away by a snow avalanche.

Critical

"It is with much sadness and deep regret that some of my friends have died as a result."

The victims were said to have been carried about 1,000ft down the 3,772ft mountain.

It is understood they were making their way down from a peak when the slope gave way.

Other climbers raised the alarm.

The woman survivor – who is 24 and from Durham in England – remained in a critical condition in a Scottish hospital last night. She had suffered serious head injuries. The male survivor contacted police moments after the avalanche.

East Derry MLA David McClarty, a friend of the Finnegan family, said: "My sympathies go to the family of Una and all the families affected by this tragedy."

Mark Diggins, co-ordinator of the Scottish Avalanche Information Service, said weather conditions were fairly dry and there had been little snow over the last four days.

He said it was possible for a single climber to trigger an avalanche

Andy Nelson, deputy head of Glencoe Mountain Rescue, who co-ordinated the rescue, said: ''It would have unfolded in a split second, they would have felt the snow moving and then they would have been travelling at a speed that was impossible to stop.''

Irish Independent

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