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.

News
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Fans hold up a scarf at West Ham vs Liverpool
footballAfter Arsenal's clear victory, focus turns to West Ham vs Liverpool
New Articles
i100... she's just started school
News
news
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Sport
football
New Articles
i100... despite rising prices
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

Qualified Primary Teaching Assistant

£64 - £73 per day + Competitive rates based on experience : Randstad Education...

Primary KS2 NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Primary NQTs required in Lambeth

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates: Randstad Education Group: * Pr...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam