Skier buried under avalanche for 15 minutes 'comes back from dead'

Skier buried under avalanche for 15 minutes 'comes back from dead'Geoffrey Robinson/Rex Features


A woman has miraculously survived after she was declared clinically dead when she was buried alive in an avalanche in Austria.

Rhianna Shaw, 23, was entombed in the snow for 15 minutes after an avalanche on a mountain near St Anton where she was skiing.

Medics were astonished that she had survived as there is only a 6% chance of resuscitation once you are buried in deep snow for more than eight minutes.

Rhianna described the experience as "absolutely terrifying", saying she couldn't move and her friends could not hear her muffled screams for help.

According to Rex Features, she said: "There was several feet of snow on top of me. You usually think snow will move but it just sets like concrete around you.

"I was absolutely frozen and I couldn't move an inch. I could just about make out which way was up as a little bit of light was coming through and I could hear faint sounds.

"All I could do was scream for help, but no one could hear me.

"They thought I might have skied off and I could hear my mobile ringing in my pocket but I couldn't answer it. It was absolutely terrifying."

Skier buried under avalanche for 15 minutes 'comes back from dead'Geoffrey Robinson/Rex Features



The accident happened on 16 February 2012 when Rhianna, who was working a ski season, was skiing off piste near St Anton with five friends.

She had been out on the same slopes several times before.

"We hadn't had snow for a couple of weeks then lots came down and it was a lovely sunny day so we decided to go out," she explained.

"We went round this one bit and me and my friend Alistair were coming down side by side and he was on a snowboard and we had a minor collision and I lost both skis.

"It normally wouldn't be a problem but it started a bit of snow fall.

"Then the others came down and a massive ledge of snowfall broke away and it carried me down the slope around 150 metres.

"I was completely buried alive and no part of me was above the surface. I would rather have not been conscious but I was.

"I couldn't move, my arms were frozen. The most I could do was shriek, but they couldn't hear me. I tried not to panic."

Her friends were determined to find her, and formed a chain across the mountain to retrace their steps, using ski poles to probe for her body.

They found the back of her leg and managed to dig her out, but by this time she had no pulse and she wasn't breathing - making her clinically dead. One of her friends gave her CPR and remarkably it worked.

"I must have been buried for at least 15 minutes and probably stayed conscious for five minutes. I was conscious I was trapped and I would probably die.

"There is only a 6% chance of resuscitation once you are pulled out of the snow like that so I was incredibly lucky."

Most people are not expected to live after 11 minutes under the snow

Rhianna, who is from Chichester, West Sussex, was put on a drip and flown to hospital by helicopter.

She is now fine, but is still haunted by the horrific accident.

"It hits me at strange times. It's like a weird bad dream," she said. "I won't be going off piste again in a hurry."

Just last week Prince Johan Friso was seriously injured in an avalanche in Lech, Austria.

The Telegraph reports that the best snow cover in a generation in the country has also led to an increase in deaths and injuries from avalanches.

According to the paper, in the past week alone, three people have died and seven escaped uninjured in six separate incidents in the country, all caused by avalanches.


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