Coleraine doctor dies in avalanche

Published Sunday, 20 January 2013
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A 25-year-old woman from Co Londonderry has been named as one of the four people who died in an avalanche in Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands on Saturday.

Coleraine doctor dies in avalanche
Una Rachel Finnegan was killed in an avalanche in the Scottish Highlands (© PA)

Una Rachel Finnegan, a junior doctor living in Edinburgh, died in the accident along with another woman and two men after a group of six people went walking in the Highlands.

They were found dead by rescue teams after the accident on Bidean Nam Bian, a mountain near Glencoe.

A sheet of snow gave way beneath the experienced hillwalkers and carried them 1,000ft to the bottom of the mountain.

Two other victims have been named as 24-year-old Christopher William Bell from Blackpool, a PhD student living in Oban, and Tom Chesters, 28, a PhD candidate living in Leeds.

The relatives of the fourth victim have asked that her name be withheld until extended family can be informed.

A 24-year-old woman from the Durham area remains in a critical condition in hospital.

Another man who was with the group escaped the collapsing snow by anchoring himself to firmer ground with an ice axe.

"Yesterday, five of my friends and I were descending a mountain in Glencoe in an area known as Church Door Buttress when the party was swept away by a snow avalanche," the survivor said in a statement.

It is with much sadness and deep regret that some of my friends have died as a result. All in the group loved the mountains and are experienced winter walkers.

Glencoe avalanche survivor


He added: "Can I ask that the deceased families and I are allowed to grieve in privacy at this difficult time. My sincere thanks go to members of the public, mountain rescue teams and other emergency services who assisted."

Northern Constabulary area commander Chief Inspector Derek Paterson said the deaths were the result of a "tragic accident", adding that his thoughts were with the victims' families.

He said the man who escaped the accident raised the alarm quickly afterwards at around 2pm.

"Glencoe Mountain Rescue team, supported by members of Lochaber Mountain Rescue team who were training in the area nearby, were airlifted by Navy Rescue Helicopter 177 from the foot of the mountain to the avalanche site," he explained.

"Searchers were assisted by a search and rescue dog team. A woman from the party was quickly rescued and taken to Belford Hospital with very serious head injuries.

"She has now been transferred to the Southern General Hospital in Glasgow where she remains in a serious condition.

"Four further people, two men and two women, were found by the searchers. Whilst everything possible was done, sadly none of them survived the avalanche."

The officer thanked all those who helped in the emergency rescue operation.

All of the missing climbers were found within four hours of the alarm being raised.

© UTV News
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5 Comments
eileen in fermanagh wrote (589 days ago):
totally agree with norman.d in bangor, all mountain ranges whould be out of bounds in winter, there are too many risks involved, one slip can cost one their life, its just not worth it. my prayers and thoughts to the families of all who have lost their lives or been injured. another tragic waste of life.
Rachel in Cushendun wrote (590 days ago):
So sad.It's all very well for us to admire the snow and icy conditions from the comfort of our homes and through windows but being out and about in it can be a very different story! Clearly Una was just doing something she loves outdoors with her friends and the elements turned for the worst on them. Evident that this weather comes with a sinister caution for all! Lord rest her and those who passed also and a speedy recovery to those in a critical condition! Thoughts and prayers to your friends and family.
norman.d in bangor wrote (590 days ago):
my sympathy to all the families who lost loved ones its time the mountains were made out of bounds in the winter for climbers the risks are to great
kate in County down wrote (590 days ago):
God bless you all RIP
Lenny Deans in Waringstown wrote (590 days ago):
I know that area very well and climbed these mountains.Glencoe is a beautiful part of the country but dangerous. My condolences goes out to Una Rachel Finnegan and the other climbers who died in this unfortunate accident.
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