Rescuer describes desperate effort to save Sydney teen killed by avalanche


A rescuer has described the frantic mission to try and save a Sydney teen who died after being buried in an avalanche in Austria.

Max Meyer was skiing with his mother in St Anton in Arlberg, Austria when he was buried under a huge wall of snow on Wednesday.

A slab of snow broke away and caused an avalanche, burying the 16-year-old Sydney International Grammar School student and his mum. She managed to escape but Max remained buried.

Max Meyer died after being buried in an avalanche in Austria Source: International Grammar School Sydney

Patrick Wechner, from St Anton’s Mountain Police, told the ABC the operation to save Max involved 45 people and a rescue dog.

“(It was) difficult (because) on the one hand there was the risk of avalanches, on the other hand because of the terrain,” he said in a translated interview.

Mr Wechner added it was the first avalanche authorities had seen in the area this season with the threat level at three. The highest is five.

Rescuers could not save Max Meyer after he was buried in an avalanche. Source: Bergrettung St.Anton am Arlberg/Facebook

He said there’s always a risk of avalanches in the area known as “V-valley”.

Police said the avalanche “came to a standstill at the bottom of the valley and had a thickness of up to four metres”. 

It took 20 minutes for rescuers to reach Max, who was buried under two metres of snow, but he could not be revived.

International Grammar School principal Shauna Colnan said she broke the tragic news to students on Thursday.

Max Meyer was skiing with his family when he was covered by snow in Austria. Source: Bergrettung St.Anton am Arlberg/Facebook

“Max Meyer was about to enter Year 11, and his life has been tragically cut short,” she told Yahoo News in a statement.

“I have spoken with Max’s father and have extended my deepest condolences on behalf of the IGS school community, and offered the family all of our support.

“We will continue to support the family through the coming days and beyond. I have also advised our school community that if they need support, they can reach out to our counsellors and to senior staff and me for help.”

A report is now being prepared for the coroner.