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Young Brit dies in Austria after refusing ski helmet

A British lad has been killed in a horror ski accident in Austria in which his head was smashed against a metal pole after telling his mother that he didn't want to wear his ski helmet.

The 23-year-old known as Alexander O. had been on a skiing holiday with his brother and his parents as well as a friend of his parents in the ski resort of Saint Anton when the accident happened.

Police spokesman Markus Maier said: "He had been alone when the accident happened. He was not wearing a crash helmet and was on piste Nr 25 which is categorised as a black run and therefore difficult.

"He was at a height of roughly 1,700m when he lost control on the slope and ended up sliding 40m down the slope before shooting into the air at the side of the ski run. He went about 13m through the air and hit his head against the arm of an artificial snow cannon at full speed. The metal arm was over 3m in the year and normally not a risk the skiers. He then fell to the ground and skidded another 9m before he came to a stop.

"By chance there was a group of three skiers behind and one of these was a doctor who was able to give emergency CPR to the young man and called for an emergency helicopter. But the emergency doctor could only certify that the young man was dead."

The artificial snow cannons are increasingly being used on ski resorts as warm weather makes real snow increasingly unlikely. With minus temperatures the snow cannons blast a high-pressure stream of water into the air which then freezes and falls to the ground as snow. The snow cannon which the young man hit had a swivel arm which it was capable of moving around to point the cannon further over the ski piste.

The boy's mother Agneaska, 48, told police that her son possessed a crash helmet but had refused to wear it and had left it behind in the hotel room before setting out for skiing.

None of the family including his brother and his father Phillip, 49, or the family friend were present when the accident happened. The family were yesterday being counselled by a crisis intervention team.

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