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Lavenham/Chamonix: Bleak outlook for snowboarder

PUBLISHED: 11:44 13 December 2012

Emily Watts was left critically ill after a snowboarding accident in the French Alps is unlikely to survive, her family said.

Emily Watts was left critically ill after a snowboarding accident in the French Alps is unlikely to survive, her family said.

THE family of a Suffolk woman injured in a freak snowboarding accident in the French Alps last night admitted the outlook is “very bleak”.

Former theatre student Emily Watts, 26, from Lavenham, plunged head-first into a snow drift on the first day of the new ski season.

She was trapped for 45 minutes before paramedics reached her and evacuated her to hospital in Annecy on Saturday afternoon.

In a statement issued last night the family said: “There has been no progress with Mimi’s condition back in Annecy. The outlook is very bleak, but the support from friends and family all over the world continues to flood in at an increased pace, which is heart-warming and most welcome.

“We are governed by French law in this situation and have no say in the decision to continue her life support. It is entirely down to the French doctors at Annecy hospital. We have 100% faith that they will make a decision that is right for Mimi.”

They also revealed that a British man raised the alarm after spotting a mark in the snow.

“So far, we have spoken to the police, who have explained exactly what happened,” the statement said.

“She was at the edge of the piste where the snow was compacted and safe, but caught an edge and was catapulted into a 70cm pile of powder.

“From the middle of the piste it was impossible to see her unless you were within two metres of the accident site.

“Luckily a British man saw a mark in the snow as he skied past, stopped and ran back up the slope to check it out.

“We’re extremely grateful for that man’s efforts - when he discovered somebody was stuck he called for help.”

Last night Miss Watts’ family - mother Nicky McAllister, father Dominic and 28-year-old brother Rory - remained at her hospital bedside “hoping for a miracle”.

And Mrs McAllister moved to quash rumours she had been alone on the piste when the accident happened. She said: “That is not true and she would never do that. She was on piste and at the back of a group of friends.

“They got to the bottom and realised she wasn’t with them but, because she is such a competent snowboarder, it didn’t occur to them that anything might have happened.”

By the time emergency crews arrived, it is believed Miss Watts - also known as Mimi - had suffered a cardiac arrest, prompting fears of brain damage.

The design student was evacuated to hospital in nearby Annecy before being transferred to a specialist unit. It is believed no-one else was involved in the accident.

The experienced snowboarder had been in France for a few weeks and was working at the resort, her aunt said.

Miss Watts was in the Grands Montets, the largest pisted skiing area in the Chamonix Valley, when the accident happened.

She reportedly suffered the cardiac arrest while rescuers were struggling to reach her at the top of the Pierre a Ric run.

Miss Watts studied costume design at Sussex University and was due to begin a masters degree course in design. Her parents run an agricultural consultancy business from their home in Lavenham.

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