Thursday 23 November 2017

Oxford student dies on university ski trip to French Alps

Friends of 22-year-old Matt Smith found him passed out in his holiday apartment, where he was pronounced dead after suspected cardiac arrest

Matt Smith, a 22-year-old Oxford student and qualified snowboard instructor, with his girlfriend Ellie Bagshaw
Matt Smith, a 22-year-old Oxford student and qualified snowboard instructor, with his girlfriend Ellie Bagshaw

Rachael Pells

An Oxford student has died at a French ski resort after a night out drinking.

Matt Smith, a 22-year-old history student at St John’s College, had been out at a party during a Cambridge and Oxford Varsity ski trip to Val Thorens.

A police report confirmed that Mr Smith had been found unconscious in his room by friends early on Sunday morning.

Emergency services were called, but he was pronounced dead at the scene, having suffered a suspected cardiac arrest.

An investigation is currently being carried out by police in nearby Albertville and an autopsy is to be held in the coming week..

Mr Smith, who was in his third year reading history, had recently completed a three-month internship as a junior press officer at Sotheby’s auction house.

He had worked at the resort in previous years, The Times reported, and was a qualified snowboard instructor.

After arriving at the Alpine resort on Saturday afternoon for the week-long event, he headed straight out to a party, it was reported.

A spokesman from NUCO Travel Ltd, the travel company hosting the students, said: “Sadly one of our passengers passed away on Sunday 4th December 2016.

“At this time, to respect their family’s and friend’s privacy, we will not be commenting further.”

Val Thorens is currently hosting the Oxford-Cambridge Varsity ski trip – the largest student snow sports event in the world.

Thousands of students from both universities are currently at the resort, with an estimated 15 per cent of Oxford students in attendance.

The event was first held in 1922 and has been criticised by Oxford college deans for its reputation of heavy drinking.

In 2011, tour operator Scott Dunn sponsored the student event offering prizes for the so-called Valley Rally, in which student societies compete in a series of challenges.

The company pulled out from future involvement, however, condemning the students for the “inappropriate behaviour” seen during the resort parties.

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: “We are supporting the family of a British national who died in France on 4 December. We are in contact with the local authorities.”

A spokesman for St John’s College, Oxford, said: “We would like to express our deep sadness at the tragic death and send our condolences to his family and friends."

Independent News Service

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