Emotional moment father digs son, 11, from snow after being buried alive on ski holiday

28 February 2020, 11:50 | Updated: 28 February 2020, 11:59

Ewan Somerville

By Ewan Somerville

A British father has shared the heart-stopping moment he dug his 11-year-old son out alive from snow while on a skiing holiday.

Gillon Campbell was skiing with his young family in Chamonix, the French alps, when his eldest child went missing.

In heart-stopping footage captured by rescuers at the resort, he traces the point he realised Fox was lost in the abyss of mountains and gullies, to when a frightened voice whispered "thank you" as he was hoisted from the ice 30 minutes after being buried under feet of snow.

Gillon Campbell rescued his son Fox, 11 after a desperate search
Gillon Campbell rescued his son Fox, 11 after a desperate search. Picture: Facebook

But miraculously, he found him thanks to a simple piece of technology that he is campaigning for other parents to use on winter trips.

Campbell said Fox was skiing with the young rider's group at La Chamoniarde.

"When we got to the piste I was a bit surprised that my 11-year-old boy, my oldest one, he wasn't there, because always stop at the piste and wait for each other," he says in the video.

"I thought he might have met my wife so we skied on to the [cable car] lift, I thought my son was with her and he wasn't. We went up the lift and he still wasn't there. So I decided I should go back the way we came to find him."

He traced back his steps, using a GPS transmitter that was linked to the receiver device his son was carrying in his backpack.

"I turned it to search, and it beeped at me. And it told me there was somebody in the snow really close by. I just dug like everything in the world I could give," he said.

"That was a really, really scary moment, I've never been that scared.

"I dug and I found his head about 1.5m under the snow, and I cleared his head and he talked to me."

He shouted for help and raised the alarm with safety crews, who flocked to the gully and shovelled Fox out from beneath the surface. Luckily, Fox escaped injury in the ordeal.

"I won't forget the moment i got to hold him. He was so cold but he was alive and he was fine."

đŸ‡«đŸ‡· Il n'y a pas de "petits" hors-pistes ! Un cas rĂ©el d’ensevelissement vĂ©cu par un garçon de 11 ans cet hiver, sur le...

Posted by La Chamoniarde on Thursday, 27 February 2020

He added: "The reason I want to share this story [is because] it happens so easily. We were not far from the piste."

Commenting on video posted to their Facebook page, La Chamoniarde resort said: "Even skiing close to the piste, is not on-piste therefore you are off-piste. Skiing off-piste carries many risks including avalanches, icy or hard snow, rocky outcrops, cliffs and holes
 none of which are signposted! There are no signs to find your bearings, and no one to alert the ski-patrol.

"Fox was very lucky. Transceiver, probe and shovel are essential but do not prevent an avalanche."

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