`I keep thinking he'll breeze back home'

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THE MOTHER of one of the avalanche victims told yesterday how she learnt of her son's death after seeing a newsflash on Teletext.

Daphne Lewis, mother of Matthew Lewis, said: "As soon as I heard what happened, I rang the police in Scotland and told them who I was and that my son was on a trip. He went away from the phone and then came back and asked if I had anybody with me and told me it was my son. I keep thinking he'll breeze back home again, but I know he won't."

She added: "I don't hold anything against that instructor. These things happen. I think you just have to accept, sometimes, acts of God and nature."

Speaking at a news conference in Dartford, where all the victims and two of the three survivors were members of a Scout Fellowship group, Mr Lewis's father, Bill, said: "We were not there to make a judgement on whether they should have heeded weather warnings. Until we can control the weather, we can't do much about such a thing as this. Matthew was very keen to get the experience the trip offered and he put a lot of effort into going. I'm concerned they might have been overkeen on the day."

Mrs Lewis spoke also of the two Scout group members who survived, Sarah Finch, 25, and Steven Newton. "Our thoughts are with Steve and Sarah. They must have been through a dreadful trauma, being buried alive for 16 hours. They've got to live with that the rest of their lives, seeing their friends die. They must be in a terrible state. Who knows, they may never get over that."

John Ray, the father of Emma, said: "All the group were fun-loving and enjoyed life. Their guide, from what we have heard, was very experienced and he was an expert mountain rescue member. From what we have been told the group were in a safe area. It was just one of those tragic things."

In a statement read on behalf of all the victims' families, the Rev Richard Arding said "We are all very distressed that these young people were so tragically lost while they were living life to the full and doing what they enjoyed most."