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Suffolk teenager used French Alps ski slope the day before fatal avalanche

PUBLISHED: 20:00 14 February 2017 | UPDATED: 10:03 15 February 2017

Rescue personnel work at the site of an avalanche at Lavachet Wall in Tignes, France (AP Photo)

Rescue personnel work at the site of an avalanche at Lavachet Wall in Tignes, France (AP Photo)

A Suffolk teenager staying in the French Alps just yards away from the avalanche which claimed the lives of four people says he skied the off-piste run the day before the tragedy.

Harvey Sellers and his brother Ollie at the Tigne Ski Resort in the French Alps just days before the avalancheHarvey Sellers and his brother Ollie at the Tigne Ski Resort in the French Alps just days before the avalanche

Harvey Sellers, 19, from Lower Holbrook, flew to the Tigne Ski Resort in November with friend George Davies, 18, from Brentwood, to run a chalet in his gap year before heading to university.

As the accommodation he stays in is directly next to the slope where the tragedy occurred, Harvey said he often uses it to ski home.

He said he woke up the morning of the avalanche to see helicopters and snowmobiles taking part in the desperate rescue operation.

“It is literally right next to us,” he said, “We can see where the avalanche has hit right out of our window.

Harvey Sellers and his brother Ollie ski the off-piste slope days before the avalancheHarvey Sellers and his brother Ollie ski the off-piste slope days before the avalanche

“It is scary to think we skied it the day before to get home.

“I had worked from around 7am to 9am that day so had gone home for a quick nap before going skiing.

“I had set an alarm and woke up to see lots of helicopters flying around.

“I didn’t really know what was going on.
“I had no idea there had been an avalanche.”

Harvey Sellers in the French Alps days before the tragic avalanche struckHarvey Sellers in the French Alps days before the tragic avalanche struck

Four snowboarders, all French nationals, were killed after being hit by a wall of snow as they walked off-piste at the Tigne Ski Resort at around 9.35am on Monday.

Five more people were thought to be missing triggering a huge search operation including helicopters, sniffer dogs, police and dozens of ski instructors but they were later found safe.

When the scale of what had happened dawned on Harvey and George, the pair quickly reported back to their team to let them know they were safe and contacting their families.

“George and I had a lot of messages from friends and family asking if were ok after it had happened,” said Harvey.

He said although it seems life at the popular ski resort seems to be slowly returning to normal, the avalanche has had a big impact on the people staying there.

“Everyone was pretty shaken up and shocked at what has happened,” he said.

“Some are worried also about going on the piste.

“But it is a freak accident so the chances of it happening are rare - but I don’t think we will be going on that run any time soon.”

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