Courage brewery heir pushes two brothers to safety as helicopter slides off mountain in horror avalanche crash

4 April 2024, 09:53

Edward Courage (L) pushed two skiers to safety. Pilot Jerome Lovey died in the crash
Edward Courage (L) pushed two skiers to safety. Pilot Jerome Lovey died in the crash. Picture: Social Media/Linkedin

By Asher McShane

A British skier saved the lives of two brothers by pushing them out of a helicopter moments before it slid down a mountain in an avalanche.

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Edward Courage, who is part of the Courage brewery family, pushed Teddy Hitchens and his brother Guy out of the doomed aircraft after it came down on the summit of the Petit Combin mountain near Verbier, the Telegraph reports.

Mr Courage survived, as did the brothers. The pilot Jerome Lovey, another young skier James Goff and their guide, Adam George both from New Hampshire in the US died.

Mr Courage, who is based in Verbier, was due to ski with five others in ‘perfect powder’ conditions.

Investigators are trying to establish how the helicopter came down on the peak near Verbier (file image)
Investigators are trying to establish how the helicopter came down on the peak near Verbier (file image). Picture: Getty

Valais canton police said: “Having reached the summit of a mountain culminating at 3,668m above sea level, for a reason that the investigation will have to determine, the aircraft slid down the northern slope.”

One skier told the paper: “It was horrific. We couldn’t make out the helicopter, it was consumed in the avalanche. We heard of the crash over the radio. We were advised to get safely off the mountain.”

Mr Courage plunged around 500m down a near vertical slope. He was swept away by the avalanche before falling into a crevasse.

He was eventually found five hours later thanks to a transceiver before being winched to safety.

He suffered broken bones and is receiving treatment in hospital.

He and the two other Britons survived. The Hitchens brothers ended up close to each other despite falling a long way after the helicopter crash.

Gilbert Crettaz, director of Adrenaline Heliski in Verbier, who has been a mountain guide in the Alps for 25 years, said: “This is the 3,672m peak you can see from Verbier, just to the right of its big sibling, the Grand Combin – what you are looking at is the steep north face. There are many different routes down and all require an advanced level of skiing. It’s a 2,000m descent.”

A donations page has been set up for Adam’s wife Caroline George-Ware and daughter Olivia. Adam’s funeral will be held next week.

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