Family ‘beyond heartbroken’ after British mother and son killed in avalanche - as police hunt cross-country skiers

31 December 2023, 16:23 | Updated: 31 December 2023, 16:48

Kate and Archie died in an avalanche on Thursday
Kate and Archie died in an avalanche on Thursday. Picture: Alamy

By Asher McShane

The family of a British woman and her son who died after an avalanche swept through an off-piste area of a French ski resort have said they are ‘beyond heartbroken’.

Listen to this article

Loading audio...

Kate Vokes, 54, and Archie Vokes, 22 died on Thursday when an avalanche hurtled through an off-piste section of the Saint-Gervais-les-Bains ski resort.

The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) confirmed it was supporting the family of the two Britons who died.

The family said in a statement today: "We are beyond heartbroken at the loss of our beloved, wonderful Kate and Archie.

"Words cannot express how terrible we all feel nor the hole in our lives that has been left by this tragic accident.

Kate Vokes, 54, and Archie Vokes, 22 died in the avalanche
Kate Vokes, 54, and Archie Vokes, 22 died in the avalanche. Picture: Handout

"We kindly ask for privacy as we grieve together as a family."

The statement added: "Kate was chair of the Oglesby Charitable Trust, a director of their family-owned property company Bruntwood, deputy chair of the Royal Exchange Theatre and a trustee of charities Shared Health and Focussed Care.

"Archie was a personal trainer at Form in Manchester and in the previous year had achieved his level 1 ski instructor qualification in Canada."

Mr Vokes was a personal trainer and Ms Vokes was chair of the Oglesby Charitable Trust, a director of their family-owned property company
Mr Vokes was a personal trainer and Ms Vokes was chair of the Oglesby Charitable Trust, a director of their family-owned property company. Picture: Handout

They had been skiing with other family members, according to the Bonneville public prosecutor's office.

Read more: Eurostar passengers rush to get home in time for New Year after being stranded at St Pancras due to flooded tunnels

Read more: US Navy destroys Houthi boats in Red Sea after attempted hijack

Another skier, reportedly an instructor, has been left injured and a hiker was killed in a separate area after the avalanche on Mont Blanc.

An FCDO spokesperson said: "We are supporting the family of two British people who died in France and are in contact with the local authorities."

The avalanche hurtled through an off-piste section of the Saint-Gervais-les-Bains ski resort on Thursday, according to the administration for the Haute-Savoie region.

A search-and-rescue effort was deployed, including around 20 rescuers, two dog teams, a doctor and two helicopters, lasting around five hours.

The avalanche may have been caused by cross-country skiers who were uphill, the Bonneville public prosecutor's office said.

It added that a manslaughter investigation has been opened by police in Chamonix and that post-mortem examinations will take place in the coming days at the medical-legal institute in Grenoble.

The Associated Press (AP) reported that Saint-Gervais mayor Jean-Marc Peillex called weather conditions too unstable for such outings.

He told BFM television: "It rained, it snowed, it was warm. There are enough marked paths to ski on.

"It's terrible what happened. A family is decimated, and we are very sad in Saint-Gervais."

A 31-year-old hiker was found dead after falling on the slope of the Ecrins mountain range, AP reported.

According to the news agency, local broadcaster France-Bleu said rescuers explained the hiker had stepped away from hiking paths to look at mountain goats.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Bosses face £1,000 fine for letting employees watch England's Euros clash with Denmark in the office

Offices showing England v Slovenia Euros clash could face hefty £1,000 fine

Princess Anne has been injured by a horse

King Charles sends 'fondest love’ to Princess Anne who will ‘quickly bounce back’ after being hit by horse

Callum the stag was "humanely euthanised".

Tourists blamed for death of 'legendary' stag after it was fed Rice Krispies and croissants

The Reform UK leader's comments came as he spoke to supporters at a rally in Kent on Tuesday, slamming the current government's ability to control immigration.

Farage warns of Channel migrant 'invasion' from countries 'with terrorism, gang culture and war zones'

Gavin Plumb is accused of plotting to kidnap Holly Willoughby

Obsessed security guard ‘plotted to keep Holly Willoughby in dungeon where screams couldn't be heard for miles'

At least two people have died in the fire

At least two dead as Moscow defence research centre bursts into flames ‘with staff trapped inside’

Parisians along River Seine, below Cathedral Notre Dame celebrate Fête de la Musique - annual city-wide music festival each June

British woman 'gang-raped in Paris at music festival'

Florida rapper Julio Foolio has been shot dead

Florida rapper Julio Foolio shot dead during his birthday in Florida

Meg Bellamy played Kate Middleton in The Crown

The Crown star Meg Bellamy reveals trolls branded her 'too fat' to play Kate in the show

Jay Slater's father has urged people to come forward if they have any information on his son's disappearance

'Someone must know something': Jay Slater's father speaks out as search for missing son stretches into second week

Security guard who plotted to kidnap, rape and murder Holly Willoughby previously held other women against their will

Security guard who plotted to kidnap, rape and murder Holly Willoughby previously held other women against their will

Princess Diana's family home in Mayfair has gone on sale for the first time in decades

'A trophy home with royal connections': Mayfair townhouse where Diana met Dodi on sale for £11m

A shopping centre security guard from Essex, spent almost two years plotting to kidnap and kill Holly Willoughby.

'Obsessed' security guard spent almost two years 'plotting to kidnap, rape and murder' Holly Willoughby

Princess Anne has been injured by a horse

Princess Anne rushed to hospital with concussion after being kicked in the head by horse on country estate

Rishi Sunak has said he is not aware of any other candidates being investigated in the Conservative gambling scandal

Sunak says he's not being investigated in Tory betting scandal and is 'unaware of other candidates being looked at'

Lucy Letby tells retrial she never intended to harm babies in her care

Lucy Letby tells her retrial she never tried to harm any babies in her care