Lavenham/Bury St Edmunds: Family “hoping for miracle” after Suffolk woman’s horror snow fall

A WOMAN from Suffolk was last night on a life support machine after a horrific snowboarding accident in the French Alps.

The family of Emily Watts said yesterday they were “hoping for a miracle” after the 26-year-old fell into a snow drift on the first day of the new ski season.

The former theatre student from Lavenham, who is known as Mimi, was stuck for 45 minutes before she was reached by paramedics and taken from the Chamonix Valley to hospital in Annecy on Saturday afternoon.

Last night Ms Watts’ mother Nicky McAllister, father Dominic and 28-year-old brother Rory were all at her hospital bedside.

Shona Pollock, Ms Watts’ aunt, described the incident as a “tragedy” and said her niece was “simply a lovely, lovely girl”. She added: “Mimi is artsy, outdoorsy, just full of life. She just has a huge passion for life. This is just so sad.”

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Ms Pollock said Ms Watts, who had moved to Chamonix two weeks ago to find work in the new ski season, had been snowboarding with friends when she plunged into the snow drift.

She added: “Mimi is now on a life support machine. She is not great, to be honest, she had a lack of oxygen to her brain for 45 minutes on the mountain.”

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Ms Pollock said: “We don’t know exactly what happened at the moment, but we believe she was snowboarding on piste and they tend to do little jumps, not great big Olympic ones, but she was on the piste and went into a snow fall.”

The 26-year-old, who went to St Benedict’s Catholic School in Bury St Edmunds, before going on to study Theatre props and special effects at Northbrook College in Worthing, Sussex, was described as a good horse rider and an experienced snowboarder.

Ms Watts, who was living at the family home in Bury Road, Lavenham, before leaving for her second ski season, had texted her family on Friday to tell them she had found a job, somewhere to live and was “very happy”.

Ms Pollock, who runs a catering company in Barnes, London, said French police had initially been unable to notify the family about the accident as Ms Watts was not wearing identification.

She added that information was filtering through slowly and she had spoken to her sister at Ms Watts’ bedside.

French authorities said the Ms Watts, whose family home is on Bury Road, Lavenham, had fallen down “a steep incline” at high speed and was in a “serious condition”.

The accident took place the Grands Montets, the largest pisted skiing area in the Chamonix Valley.

Located above Argenti�re, the area is popular with British tourists and offers some of the hardest pistes in Europe.

Weather conditions at the time of the incident were said to be good, with snow falling throughout the day.

Hugh O’Neill, headteacher at St Benedict’s said: “We heard the awful news about Mimi’s accident through the East Anglian Daily Times. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Mimi and her family. Like them, we will hope and pray that she shows the first signs of recovery. How sad to think of a young person, with her life ahead of her, being struck down whilst out and about enjoying herself.

“We will ask everyone in school to pray for Mimi and her family in the morning.”

Sue Dare, principal of Northbrook College said she was “deeply saddened” by news of the accident.

She added: “Dan Jenkins, Emily’s course tutor described her as a creative force with an adventurous appetite for life.

“Emily’s wonderful attitude and talent made her a real joy to teach.

“Our thoughts go out to Emily and her family.”

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