In a devastating turn of events, a British mother and her 22-year-old son lost their lives in an avalanche near the French ski resort of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains. The victims have been identified as Kate Vokes, 54, and Archie Vokes, both from Manchester. The family expresses being “beyond heartbroken” by this tragic accident.
The Fatal Incident
The avalanche occurred in an off-piste area close to Mont Blanc, near the Swiss border, around 15:30 local time on Thursday. Despite being with a guide they had known for years and part of a family group, the mother and son, along with three others, faced the devastating force of the avalanche.
A Grieving Family’s Statement
A statement from the Vokes family on Sunday conveyed the depth of their grief: “We are beyond heartbroken at the loss of our beloved, wonderful Kate and Archie. Words cannot express how terrible we all feel nor the hole in our lives that has been left by this tragic accident. We kindly ask for privacy as we grieve together as a family.”
Remembering Archie Vokes
Archie Vokes, aged 22, worked as a personal trainer at Form in Manchester. In the previous year, he achieved his level 1 ski instructor qualification in Canada, reflecting his passion for the sport and dedication to his profession.
Kate Vokes’ Contributions
Kate Vokes was not only a loving mother but also actively involved in various charitable and business endeavors. She served as the chair of the Oglesby Charitable Trust, a director of the family-owned property company Bruntwood, deputy chair of the Royal Exchange Theatre, and a trustee of charities Shared Health and Focused Care.
Tributes Pour In
The news of Kate and Archie Vokes’ tragic demise has left a profound impact on the organizations they were associated with. The Royal Exchange Theatre expressed being “absolutely devastated,” describing Kate Vokes as “remarkable” and a “dear friend, colleague, and tireless supporter.”
Similarly, the Shared Health Foundation, one of the charities Kate was involved with, expressed shock and sadness at the “tragic news.”
Investigation and Local Response
A manslaughter investigation has been opened by the Bonneville public prosecutor’s office, following the incident. The local authorities suspect that the avalanche may have been triggered by another group of skiers at a higher altitude. The guide accompanying the family, who has been with them for years, was not wearing an avalanche beacon, contrary to initial reports.
Mayor Jean-Marc Peillex of Saint-Gervais expressed deep sorrow over the tragedy, stating, “It’s terrible what happened. A family is decimated, and we are very sad in Saint-Gervais.”
Foreign Office Involvement
The Foreign Office confirmed that it is supporting the family and is in contact with local authorities. The incident sheds light on the inherent risks of skiing in off-piste areas, even with experienced guides.
This heartbreaking incident adds to the annual toll of avalanches in France, where around 110 people are caught in such incidents each year, resulting in approximately 30 deaths. The Vokes family’s tragedy serves as a somber reminder of the unpredictable nature of mountainous terrain.
In the face of this heart-wrenching loss, the Vokes family, friends, and the communities they touched mourn the lives of Kate and Archie Vokes, emphasizing the importance of safety in mountain activities.
Q1: How did the avalanche tragedy unfold for Kate and Archie Vokes?
A1: The mother and son were caught in an avalanche near the French ski resort of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains while skiing in an off-piste area close to Mont Blanc. The incident occurred around 15:30 local time on Thursday.
Q2: Who were Kate and Archie Vokes, and where were they from?
A2: Kate Vokes, aged 54, and Archie Vokes, aged 22, were from Manchester, UK. Kate was actively involved in charitable and business endeavors, while Archie worked as a personal trainer in Manchester.
Q3: What was the family’s response to the tragic accident?
A3: The Vokes family expressed being “beyond heartbroken” in a statement on Sunday, emphasizing the indescribable grief and the void left by the tragic accident. They requested privacy as they grieve together.
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