Tuesday 20 February 2018

Face of 'avid sportsman' Shay killed in Italian avalanche

A 40-year-old climber from Cork died after a fall while climbing outside Rome in Italy

Shane Casey
Shane Casey
The fatal fall occurred in a popular walking and climbing area of the Apennine Mountains, some 60km from Rome.
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

THE family of an Irishman killed in an Italian avalanche has paid moving tribute to him as “an avid and experienced outdoor sportsman”.

Shay Casey (40) became the fourth Irishman to die in mountaineering accidents in France, Italy and Ireland in the space of just six days.

The young University College Cork (UCC) graduate was left with absolutely no chance to save himself when an avalanche erupted as he climbed near the Val d’Aosta in northern Italy with a group of friends.

His family said they are heartbroken.

“It is with deep sadness that the Casey family confirms the tragic death of their youngest brother, Shay Casey,” a family spokesman said. “Shay, a chartered surveyor, had been living in London for the last number of years.”

“An avid and experienced outdoor sportsman, he was climbing with friends in Aosta, Northern Italy when an avalanche occurred.” “Tragically Shay suffered serious injuries and was killed by the force of the snowslide. His body has been recovered, and the family is being assisted by the Department of Foreign Affairs.”  Shay, a scion of the Casey family who are well known in Cork for their furniture business, had been in Italy with a group of 11 friends.

While details of the fatal accident are still unclear, Italian reports indicated that Mr Casey suffered head and neck injuries in the avalanche and rock slide which swept him almost 50m down the mountainside.

Eye-witnesses described the avalanche as “a sudden rumble and then the entire mountain seemed to give way.”

Weather in the area had been quite mixed over recent weeks and it is feared that rocks may have been loosened on the mountain as a result.

Mountain rescue officials and paramedics raced to the scene after the accident early on Thursday.

The area is hugely popular with hikers and mountain climbers from all over Europe.

Despite desperate efforts to stabilise Mr Casey’s condition, he was pronounced dead a short time after the accident.

His body was later removed to a local hospital.

Mr Casey was from Cork city but had been resident for over a decade in London where he was employed.

A UCC graduate, he worked in the civil engineering industry in the UK.

However, he was a regular visitor back to Cork where he had extensive family and friends.

Mr Casey is survived by his parents, Jim and Joan Casey of Casey’s Furniture, brothers Jack, Peter and David and sisters Gina and Darragh.Members of his family have flown to Italy to assist with the repatriation of his body.

The family are being assisted by the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Cork Business Association (CBA) has expressed their deepest sympathy to the family over the tragic accident.

Mr Casey is the fourth Irish person to die in mountain accidents over the past seven days, three in Europe and one in Ireland.

Colm Ennis (37) from Waterford and Peter Britton (55) from Tipperary died when they fell 200 metres on the Dent du Geant or Giant's Tooth section of Mont Blanc in France last Sunday.

The bodies of both men were flown back to Ireland from France yesterday and their funerals will take place on Sunday and Monday.

Mont Blanc, Europe's highest mountain, is nicknamed the 'White Killer' because so many climbers die on its slopes each year.

A fourth man died in a fall while climbing in Connemara last weekend.

Francis McKeon (56), a civil servant from Cavan, had been climbing in the Twelve Bens range in Galway last Saturday when he tragically fell 20m and suffered fatal injuries.

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