Skier killed in avalanche was ‘great champion’ of causes

Kate Vokes, 54, and her son Archie Vokes, 22
Image caption,The mother and her 22-year-old son died in the avalanche on Thursday

A British skier who died with her son in an avalanche in France was a “great champion” of causes, a council leader has said.

Kate and Archie Vokes were killed when an avalanche swept through an off-piste area near the French ski resort of Saint-Gervais-les-Bains on Thursday.

Their family said they were¬†“beyond heartbroken” by the “tragic accident”.

Manchester City Council leader Bev Craig said Ms Vokes would be “very sadly missed” in the city.

“This is a terrible tragedy and our hearts go out to Kate and Archie’s family and friends on their loss,” she said.

“Kate Vokes played a significant role in Manchester and was a great champion of many social and cultural causes in our city.

“She was known for her passion, commitment and energy.”

The council leader added Ms Vokes “believed passionately in the positive social impact that business could have”.

Ms Vokes, 54, was chair of the Oglesby Charitable Trust, a director of their family-owned property company Bruntwood, deputy chair of the Royal Exchange Theatre and a trustee of charities Shared Health and Focused Care.

Mr Vokes, 22, was a personal trainer and in the previous year had achieved his level 1 ski instructor qualification in Canada.

Manslaughter probe

The pair, both from Manchester, were close to Mont Blanc, near the Swiss border, when the avalanche hit at about 15:30 local time (14:30 GMT).

The avalanche is thought to have begun at an altitude of about 2,300 metres (7,546 feet) and travelled about 400 metres.

Officials believe it may have been triggered by another party of skiers at a higher altitude.

The pair were found after about five hours of searching by 20 first responders and two helicopters, Bonneville prosecutor Karline Bouisset explained in a statement.

Her office has said a manslaughter investigation had been opened by police in nearby Chamonix.

About 110 people are caught in avalanches every year in France, leading to about 30 deaths.

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