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Wife tells of moment husband died in avalanche
A HAMPSHIRE woman has described the moment she was buried in an avalanche which killed her husband during a skiing holiday in the Alps.
Former Olympic coach David Robinson, 67, was enjoying a holiday at the Val D’Isere resort with his wife Christine when disaster struck.
The couple had been skiing off-piste with a group of friends on Boxing Day 2010 when the avalanche buried the couple.
His widow, now Christine Hughes, was buried by the avalanche but was quickly rescued by their friend and guide Wayne Watson .
Mr Robinson was found around half an hour later crushed under 3ft of snow.
She said she was able to inflate a safety airbag as the avalanche hit, which led to her rescue, but her husband could not.
Ms Hughes said: “We were told to keep a safe distance of 50m between each of us and we all knew that anyway. But we had skied the area three days previous because it was deemed the safest area to be.
“I was waiting at the top of the slope and I could just see David about halfway down the slope. As I waited I saw these cracks start to appear around my feet. I went to move forward and then everything went sideways.
“I was quite lucky because I had a buffer over my mouth so I did not breathe in any snow. I don’t know how much air I had left but then I heard voices and after a few minutes my friends dug an air passage for me so I could breathe.”
She was dug out after about 20 minutes and was unharmed but her husband was taken by helicopter to Grenoble Hospital and died the following day.
The inquest heard the avalanche was caused after members of the group stopped while skiing down the slope, leading the snow mantle to become unstable.
She said: “David had such a love of life. He used to say the best things in life are the sea and the mountains and it’s just a shame that it was one of those loves that took him from us. But he would not have wanted it any other way.
“It’s also poignant they held the inquest during the Olympics because of his background and it was his idea to hold the sailing at Weymouth. He had been suggesting they should hold it there since the 1970s.”
French police investigated the accident and concluded neither the resort nor Mr Watson, an experienced instructor, was at fault.
The inquest heard weather reports said there was a medium risk of avalanche in the area on that day.
Grahame Short, Coroner for Central Hampshire, recorded a verdict of accidental death.