11 Aug 2015

Man killed in avalanche named

10:01 am on 11 August 2015

Police have named the man who died after being buried in an avalanche yesterday.

He was Roger Greville, 58, of Sydney, Australia.

Southern Lakes Heliski.

Photo: Facebook / Southern Lakes Heliski

Mr Greville was on a trip with Southern Lakes Heliski when he was buried in snow near the Devil's Staircase, in the Kingston area, yesterday afternoon.

He died at the scene and his death had been referred to the coroner.

The cause of death was still unknown, police said, and a post-mortem was scheduled for this morning.

Police were working closely with the Australian Embassy, and a number of Mr Greville's family were due to arrive in New Zealand today.

They have appealed for privacy.

The Mountain Guide Association is flying an investigator to the scene of Mr Greville's death today, who will carry out a field examination, and interview the other members of the group, witnesses and guides.

Vice-president Jane Morris said the investigation's findings could be used when training guides in the future.

Ms Morris said Southern Lakes Heliski had an exemplary safety record.

"Guides do their best at making the safest possible decisions... with the skills and the knowledge that they have in a very dynamic environment," she said.

"Mother Nature sometimes has the final say."

The investigation was expected to take between two and three weeks.

Southern Lakes Heliski director Jonathan Wallis said one of its pilots raised the alarm about the avalanche just after 2.30pm yesterday.

"At 2.48pm we received confirmation that the skier had been located, however, despite the considerable efforts of guides and paramedics, the skier was pronounced dead at the scene sometime later," he said.

The general manager of Heliworks Queenstown, Richard Mills, said a team from his organisation helped airlift other skiers away from the slopes.

"We were called by the police to respond to go to the skifield and bring paramedics to the scene," he said.

"We then brought the deceased and the paramedics back down to Queenstown. The comment from the pilots was that it was a big avalanche."

Mr Mills said heli-ski companies usually did daily avalanche checks.