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Tributes paid to Cameron Bespolka, 16, after he was killed in avalanche
TRIBUTES have poured in for a Hampshire teenager who died in an avalanche in Austria.
Keen birdwatcher and talented photographer Cameron Bespolka, 16, was killed when a ridge of snow fell on him when he was holidaying in the luxury resort of Lech am Arlberg.
The 16-year-old triplet from Winchester was buried by the wall of ice in the Austrian Alps while on a skiing lesson with his brother Nicolas, father Kevin and an experienced instructor.
Kevin Bespolka, 51, remains seriously ill in hospital and was due to undergo a second operation, according to a relative.
As he arrived at the family’s Winchester home, one of Cameron’s uncles said Mr Bespolka’s injuries were “not thought to be life-threatening” but that it was still “early days”.
Cameron’s mother Corinne is at her husband’s bedside and is expected to remain in Austria for a further week, he added.
The uncle said he had been in touch with the group but knew very few details.
He said: “Kevin has already had one operation and needs another soon. Thankfully his injuries are not thought to be life threatening, but it’s early days. We’re not sure if there will be any lasting damage.”
Meanwhile, Cameron’s aunt Johanna Cruick-shank, 61, has flown out to be with her grieving loved ones.
The picture-framer, who runs her own business, told neighbours in Winchester she was leaving to be at her brother-in-law Kevin’s hospital bedside.
A retired male neighbour said: “As you can imagine she seemed pretty shaken up. How do you wish anyone a merry Christmas after that bombshell? It’s a terrible thing to have happened.”
Austrian authorities investigating the incident confirmed Cameron died at the scene, while Kevin was pulled out alive and airlifted to hospital in the town of Feldkirch, where he is in intensive care being treated for severe lung and knee injuries. Nicolas was uninjured because he was following slightly behind.
The 39-year-old ski instructor faces a criminal investigation over charges of “negligence leading to serious injury with fatal consequences”.
Cameron, a Winchest-er College student, was a keen birdwatcher, often getting up at 6am to catch a glimpse of rare breeds before posting pictures of birds he saw on social networking sites and his own birding blog.
Keith Betton, from Hampshire Ornithological Society, received regular messages from him.
He said: “It is a really sad loss. He was very well liked by everyone and he was a very talented photographer and a real rising star in bird watching and wildlife.”
Winchester College headmaster Ralph Townsend said: “Cameron was universally regarded as a gentle, kind, talented boy who was very popular with staff and pupils alike. “He was modest and had a quiet, individual style, but was a strong personality and instantly likeable. Patient and caring, he put people immediately at their ease.
“He had a bright future in ornithology and probably wildlife and conservation as a whole. His enthusiasm was infectious and he was wonderful company.”
The tragedy happened shortly before 1.30pm on Tuesday. Cameron’s mother Corrine, his triplet sister and younger sister Sienna, 12, were believed to be at the hotel at the time.
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