Snowboarder killed by avalanche

AN "inspirational" young snowboarder could have done nothing to avoid his tragic death in an avalanche, an inquest heard.Sam Harber, 25, from Ixworth, near Bury St Edmunds, was caught by a "slab avalanche" measuring 500 metres wide and one than one-and-a-half metres deep while snowboarding with his friend, James Rourke, on April 29 this year.

AN "inspirational" young snowboarder could have done nothing to avoid his tragic death in an avalanche, an inquest heard.

Sam Harber, 25, from Ixworth, near Bury St Edmunds, was caught by a "slab avalanche" measuring 500 metres wide and one than one-and-a-half metres deep while snowboarding with his friend, James Rourke, on April 29 this year.

The inquest at Bury yesterday was told an eyewitness to the tragedy said the pair had been carried some way by the force of the avalanche, which fell from around 100 metres higher up the slope. They were both killed in the accident, on the French Alps.

A local piste expert said there was nothing they could have done differently and it was only through "bad luck" they were caught up in the disaster, the inquest heard.


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The body of Mr Rourke, who was from the Brighton area, was found shortly after the accident, but bad weather hampered the recovery of the body of Mr Harber, an extreme sports enthusiast.

It was not until what would have been his 26th birthday, on June 29, that his body was finally found, ending an agonising wait for his family.

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Greater Suffolk coroner Dr Peter Dean described how Mr Harber had been working as a highly-valued chalet manager at a nearby skiing resort.

A tribute from Mr Harber's father Barry was also read out in which he said he had been tremendously gratified to meet the large and diverse circle of friends gathered at his son's funeral. One of his friends had described Mr Harber as "an inspiration".

After studying at the University of Wales, Mr Harber had travelled widely, including teaching Maori children in New Zealand. He helped out at a homeless hostel on Christmas Day in Bury, the inquest heard.

A post-mortem examination established the cause of death as multiple injuries and a verdict of accidental death was recorded.

A party held shortly before Mr Harber's funeral in July raised more than £2,000 and his family intend to set up a charity in his honour.

The funeral was attended by around 200 people, many clad in bright colours, with the coffin arriving in a camper van with a surfboard on top, and the funeral directors wore jeans, in honour of the spirit in which Mr Harber lived his life.

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