Zip wire death student named

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The Independent Online

A British student who died in the Swiss Alps after smashing into a rock face on a zip wire was named by sources today as Andrea Watton.

The 21-year-old, from Salisbury, Wiltshire, was with six other sport science students on a trip to the village of Saas-Fee in the south of the country.

She was on a "via ferrata" - a mountain route fitted with cables, ladders and bridges - when the accident happened on Sunday. Ms Watton and her group were making their way across the Gorge Alpine route that links Saas-Fee to Saas-Grund, crossing gorges on zip wires, bridges, steps, steel cables and ladders.

When the student reached the third zip wire on the course, she decided not to use the special equipment designed for the activity, local police said.

A spokesman said: "Despite the reservations of her colleagues, she fixed only two hooks to the cable and launched herself.

"She was unable to brake when she reached the other side and smashed violently into a rock face. She died immediately."

The group had set out without a guide, he added.

The local magistrate in Haut-Valais has opened an investigation into the incident to establish what happened.

Ms Watton was a student at the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Science at Bangor University in Wales.

Swiss police said her family had travelled to the country when they heard the news of her death.

The rest of the students in her group, meanwhile, have returned to the UK, the police spokesman said.

The university described Ms Watton as a conscientious, high-achieving and popular student who would be greatly missed.

A spokeswoman said: "The university is saddened by the news of Andrea Watton's death in this tragic accident.

"Andrea was a conscientious and high-achieving student who was well-liked by her peers.

"She was passionate, thoughtful and engaging, and quick to volunteer, helping others whenever possible.

"She will be greatly missed by students and staff at the School of Sport, Health and Exercise Sciences.

"All our thoughts and sympathy are with her family and friends at this difficult time."

The university has arranged for a member of staff to go to Switzerland and for counselling to be available to the students involved.

Ms Watton had completed the second year of her Sport Science (Outdoor Activities) degree when she died.

Her grieving family, who live in Fordingbridge, Hampshire, said they did not want to speak about the tragedy.