Student 'froze to death' on Alps holiday

Tributes were paid tonight to a British student who froze to death on a skiing holiday in the French Alps after falling into an icy river.

Rachel Ward, 20, a Durham University undergraduate, was found dead in the resort of Val d'Isere yesterday morning.

She apparently slipped on ice and plunged into the Isere River while walking home alone from a night out with friends.

Shortly before her death the student left a message on a friend's phone saying she was lost, local media reported.

One theory is that she decided to cross the river to take a short cut but fell in and could not get out.

French police said the death was a tragic accident, and they are not looking for anyone else.

The student's parents have travelled to Val d'Isere, where they are being assisted by British consular officials.

Miss Ward, from Halifax, West Yorkshire, was in France with friends on a ski and snowboarding holiday with travel operator On the Piste.

Teachers and friends described a "talented and popular" student who was gifted both academically and on the sports field.

She was a member of Durham University Hockey Club and also acted as its treasurer.

Her heartbroken team mates said they could not put into words how much they would miss her.

Club captain Phil Mutlow said: "She was always there to help everyone in the club, whether it be for financial advice or just for a friendly chat.

"Rachel was one of the best - she always had a smile on her face and was lovely to be around.

"The club are absolutely devastated that someone so young and with so much talent and enthusiasm for life could be taken in such a horrific way."

Miss Ward's principal at Durham University's Collingwood College, Professor Ed Corrigan, said her fellow students were being offered counselling.

"Everyone in Collingwood is shocked by Rachel's tragic death," he said.

"She was a bright, popular student, who was academically talented and enjoyed participating in sport and other college activities.

"She will be missed by all of us. We extend our deeply felt sympathy to her family and to her many friends."

On the Piste, based in Withington, Manchester, specialises in student skiing holidays.

Those on holiday with the company are given a special wristband that get them cut-price drinks.

Its website says: "On the Piste know that one of the most important elements of an unforgettable holiday are nights out in the bars and clubs."

On the Piste said it would support Miss Ward's parents in any way it could.

The company said in a statement: "Our staff are doing everything possible to assist the family and local authorities.

"Senior managers are in-resort to accompany the family in addition to supporting local staff and customers who may have been affected."

Miss Ward was a pupil at Bradford Girls' Grammar School, where she achieved straight As and A*s in her GCSEs and captained the hockey team.

Her headmistress, Lynda Warrington, described her as a "lovely and friendly personality" who was always ready to offer a helping hand.

She then went to Greenhead College in Huddersfield to do her A-levels. She went on several ski trips with the school.

Martin Rostron, the college's principal, said: "Rachel was a wonderful young lady.

"She was very bright and very gifted, both as an academic and in terms of her sporting abilities as she was a county hockey player."

* Miss Ward's death came just days after two young British friends were killed in a climbing accident in the French Alps. On Saturday Rob Gauntlett, 21, the youngest Briton to climb Mount Everest, and James Atkinson, also 21, plunged to their deaths in the Chamonix region on a route on the east face of Mont Blanc.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Interactive / Mobile Developer

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer - Midweight

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Front End Developer

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Front End Developer - Midweight / Senior

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Day In a Page

Giants Club: After wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, Uganda’s giants flourish once again

Uganda's giants are flourishing once again

After the wholesale butchery of Idi Amin's regime, elephant populations are finally recovering
The London: After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

After 350 years, the riddle of Britain's exploding fleet is finally solved

Archaeologists will recover a crucial item from the wreck of the London which could help shed more light on what happened in the vessel's final seconds
Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

Airbus has patented a jet that could fly from London to New York in one hour

The invention involves turbojets and ramjets - a type of jet engine - and a rocket motor
Tate Sensorium: New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art

Tate Sensorium

New exhibition at Tate Britain invites art lovers to taste, smell and hear art
10 best sun creams for kids

10 best sun creams for kids

Protect delicate and sensitive skin with products specially formulated for little ones
Ashes 2015: Nice guy Steven Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

Nice guy Finn is making up for lost time – and quickly

He was man-of-the-match in the third Test following his recall to the England side
Ashes 2015: Remember Ashton Agar? The No 11 that nearly toppled England

Remember Ashton Agar?

The No 11 that nearly toppled England
Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks