Skiers urged to wear helmets after British man’s death in Austria

Coroner also says snow machines should be padded after Aleksander Owens-Thurston, 23, killed in St Anton

A coroner has called for safety improvements at an Austrian ski resort after a man was killed when he crashed into a snow machine while not wearing a helmet.

Aleksander Owens-Thurston, 23, of Surrey, died last month after he lost control on a steep run in St Anton during a family holiday with his parents and younger brother.

West Somerset coroner Michael Rose spoke out as he opened and adjourned the inquest into the death of Owens-Thurston, an IT worker. Rose urged Britons heading off on skiing holidays during the forthcoming Easter break to wear a helmet.

The coroner said Owens-Thurston suffered fractures to his skull "due to a ski accident where he fell and collided into a snow machine" on 24 February while skiing on a black run.

"After a fall while skiing he possibly fell head-on into a snow machine." Rose said.

"The deceased was not wearing a helmet. We are coming up soon to the Easter holidays and I would urge anyone to wear a helmet. I would urge the Austrian authorities to put padding on the snow machines."

Owens-Thurston's family were not present during the brief hearing in Taunton on Thursday and his funeral is due to take place in the town tomorrow. He had recently graduated from the University of Surrey with a degree in economics and had started a job at an IT firm.

Speaking after Owens-Thurston's death, his father Phillip said he wanted changes to be made to prevent any similar accidents.

"There's an element of risk [in skiing] but what I have said is that it shouldn't be any more risky than it needs to be," he said.

"If you stick a 15ft-long steel bar across a slope in a position that if someone comes down at speed and loses control they will be thrown into it at 50mph, that's not helpful.

"It's a tragic accident but what they have to do is think about the placement of the obstacles on the ski slopes, especially on black slopes where if you lose control it's going to be at speed."

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