18 Mar 2013

Father and son killed by French Alps fall named

A British man, 48, and his 12-year-old son who died near Mont Blanc after a steep fall in the French Alps have been named.

Father and son dead in the Alps after fall

The bodies of Peter Saunders and his son Charlie were found by rescue services near Mont Blanc on Sunday morning.

Mr Saunders hadcalled for help at 2pm local time on Saturday after Charlie fell down a cliff on a mountain trail in the Chamonix valley, but tumbled to his death while looking for his son.

The pair had reportedly set off without snowshoes to explore a “dangerous, deep, snowy” mountain trail between Bossons and Les Houches when they died.

Twelve-year-old Charlie fell from around 300 metres, while his father fell 200 metres, reports said.

Found together

Captain Ribes, a French police officer, said: “We think the father tried to find his son after he called us and asked for rescue. We believe he fell as he tried to find his son. Their bodies were found together this morning at 7.40am.”

Charlie was always full of life, had a really happy temperament and loved spending time with his father. Family statement

The family said in a statement: “Charlie was always full of life, had a really happy temperament and loved spending time with his father. Peter was fantastic at making things happen, resourceful, with a positive approach to life.

“They will both be sorely missed by friends and family alike.”

Covered in snow

Richard Mansfield, a mountain guide who has worked in the area for 20 years and lives 1km from the Bossons glacier, said: “I don’t know exactly where the accident happened but all the trails on the north side of the valley are covered in snow at the moment.

“The footpaths usually don’t get that many people out at this time of year because they are much more difficult to navigate, although yesterday was a beautiful sunny day.”

Mr Mansfield described a “number of footpaths which weave in and out of indentures in the mountainside” and this “is where they may have slipped off”.

He said he regularly goes out on the trails with his own children in the summer.

The valley, which boasts five ski resorts, receives a lot of British tourists throughout the year, with many owning holiday homes in the area.