British snowboarder Emily Watts in critical condition after accident in French Alps

 

A British student left critically ill after a snowboarding accident in the French Alps is still fighting for her life, her family said today.

Emily Watts, known as Mimi, fell headfirst into a snowdrift and was stuck for about 45 minutes following the fall in Chamonix on Saturday.

By the time emergency crews arrived, the 26-year-old, from Lavenham, in Suffolk, had suffered a cardiac arrest, prompting fears of brain damage.

Her parents, Nicky and Dominic, along with her 27-year-old brother Rory, have now flown to France to be by her bedside while she remains on a life support machine.

Today, Miss Watts' aunt Shona Pollock said there had been no news overnight.

She added her family was "consumed with grief" as it became clear she was unlikely to recover.

"She's on a life support machine but it won't be for long," Ms Pollock said.

"I have a religious friend who said there is still hope but I don't believe there is. Her brain was starved of oxygen for about 45 minutes.

"It's so sad. Mimi is a fabulous, outgoing character, plucky, and someone who loved the mountains.

"She is adored by her brother. She's just a thoroughly positive, optimistic, lovely girl."

French police were unable to notify the family for a day as Miss Watts was not wearing any identification, Ms Pollock said.

The design student was reportedly evacuated to hospital in nearby Annecy, before being transferred to a specialist unit. It is believed no-one else was involved in the accident.

The experienced snowboarder had been in France for a few weeks and was working at the resort, her aunt said.

Ms Pollock, who runs a catering company in Barnes, south-west London, said: "She had been out there for a couple of weeks but, tragically, Saturday was the first day of the season.

"No-one really knows what happened but she had all the right kit on."

Miss Watts was in the Grands Montets, the largest pisted skiing area in the Chamonix Valley, when the accident happened.

She reportedly suffered the cardiac arrest while rescuers were struggling to reach her at the top of the Pierre a Ric run.

She had previously studied costume design at Sussex University and had attended a local convent in Bury St Edmunds, her aunt said. She was due to begin a masters degree course in design.

A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We are aware of the hospitalisation of a British national in France on December 8.

"We are providing consular assistance to the family at this difficult time."

Speaking from France today, her mother, Nicky, said the family were on their way to meet mountain rescue workers in Chamonix.

She added: "We will speak to them and try to get a better picture of exactly what happened.

"We have seen some reports that Emily was off piste and on her own - that is not true and she would never do that.

"She was on piste and at the back of a group of friends.

"They got to the bottom and realised she wasn't with them but, because she is such a competent snowboarder, it didn't occur to them that anything might have happened."

She added that there had been no developments in Miss Watts' condition.

PA

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
arts + entsBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Lead Application Developer

£80000 - £90000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I am current...

Senior Networks Architect

£65000 per annum + 15% Pension, Health, Travel & Bonus: Progressive Recruitmen...

SAP BW/BO Consultant

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP BW/BO CONSU...

Hydraulic Power Pack Design Engineer

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: I recruit for contract mechanical design...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices