Brewery heir saved brothers from 1,640ft helicopter crash in Alps by pushing them out

Brewery heir saved brothers from 1,640ft helicopter crash in Alps by pushing them out

Edward Courage saved the lives of two skiers in the canton of Valais where a separate avalanche hit on Monday (pictured on right) (Credits EPA/Twitter)

A British skier has saved the lives of two brothers after their helicopter crashed in the Swiss Alps, killing three others on board.

Skiers were caught in a deadly avalanche at Petit Combin peak in Valais, Switzerland, on Tuesday.

A helicopter pilot was taking five men to the summit for them to ski off-piste when the chopper slid down the mountain at about 9.25am.

Edward Courage, of the Courage Brewing family, is believed to have saved the lives of brothers Teddy and Guy Hitchens, MailOnline reports.

He pushed the pair out of the Air Glaciers B3-type chopper before it tumbled down 1,640ft (500m).

Edward Courage miraculously survived the helicopter crash

Mr Courage survived the terrifying fall and a subsequent 100ft plunge into a crevice.

But the incident killed the pilot Jerome Lovey, a dad-of-two, along with skiers James Goff and Adam George.

Eyewitnesses said the helicopter was swiped in an avalanche, but an investigation into the incident is ongoing.

Mr Courage, in his seventies, is undergoing surgery in a hospital after he suffered several broken bones, The Telegraph reports.

Helicopter pilot Jerome Lovey was killed in the crash (Provider: Linkedin)

Adam George, 45, died after the helicopter crashed in the Alps (Credit: Instagram)

He is a prominent member of the Verbier’s English-speaking community and part of the English Speaking Church of Verbier Association.

Adam George, 45, was an experienced guide from New Hampshire, US, who had conquered famous summits such as Yosemite’s El Capital and the north face of the Eiger in the Alps.

Friends and family of his widow, Caroline George-Ware, who works as a mountain guide, set up a donation page for her and their daughter Olivia.

In an emotional tribute to her late husband, she wrote on social media: ‘Stay with me! Stay with me, Adam. I need your arms to hold me up.’

A rescue helicopter at Petit Combin after the crash on April 2 (Credits: EPA)

Parents of the Hitchens brothers said in a statement: ‘Our thoughts are with the families of James, Adam and the pilot for their appalling losses.

‘Ted was released from hospital today on crutches. Guy is still in hospital. No operations currently required but severely beaten up and bed-bound.’

One skier who arrived at the summit shortly after reportedly said: ‘We landed after them on the south side of Le Petit Combin and saw the avalanche. It was horrific.

‘We couldn’t make out the helicopter, it was consumed in the avalanche. We heard of the crash over the radio. We were advised to get safely off the mountain.’

Rescuer sent seven helicopters to the site of the crash on the mountainside.

Now the Swiss Federal Prosecutor’s Office has opened an investigation into the fatal crash.

The Swiss Safety Investigation Service has also launched a separate probe.

Petit Combin mountain in south Switzerland is a popular destination among heli-skiers

Valais Police said in a statement: ‘Having reached the summit of a mountain culminating at 3,668 metres above sea level, for a reason that the investigation will have to determine, the aircraft slid down the northern slope.

‘The three other occupants of the aircraft were unfortunately found lifeless.’

The area had moderate wind in the high mountains earlier in the morning, according to the Swiss weather service.

A helicopter pilot Andreas Graf told a Swiss outlet what could have triggered the crash.

Based on photos and details from the scene, it appears the pilot was caught in a ‘whiteout’ caused by the powder snow, making him lose his reference point with the mountain, he told Blick.

But he said it was all ‘speculation until an accident report’.

Helicopter company Air Glaciers told Swiss media: ‘We are deeply shocked by this event. Our thoughts are with the families and relatives of the victims.’

It comes after a terrifying avalanche killed an American teenager and two other people at a ski resort near Zermatt on Monday at an off-piste route.

One victim, a 20-year-old Swiss man, was airlifted to hospital with serious injuries.

Rescuers have recovered all three bodies, MailOnline reports.

Last month, a family of skiers were found frozen to death on the Tete Blanche mountain after getting lost in a storm.

What is heli-skiing?

The skiers were part of a heli-skiing group planning to ski down the mountainside on an unmarked, off-piste route.

Heli-skiers reach the top of a mountain with a helicopter instead of a ski lift.

The chopper lands on a marked location before the skiers exit it so skiers do not usually jump out of a moving aircraft.

The concept emerged in the late 1950s after choppers were used in Alaska and Europe to access remote mountains.

This type of skiing is suitable only for experienced skiers who are required to carry an avalanche emergency kit with a transceiver, shovel and a pole.

Prices vary depending on location, but one flight up a mountain often costs at least £200.

Campaign groups in Switzerland have previously demanded a ban on heli-skiing due to concern over its environmental impact.

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