The site of the accident.
© Kantonspolizei Wallis/ValaisThe site of the accident.
A fatal helicopter accident was reported on Tuesday, April 2, at Petit Combin, near Verbier, Switzerland. Three people lost their lives in the accident while three further people were injured.

According to the police report, a type B3 helicopter crashed at the Petit Combin, a popular backcountry and heliskiing location near the famous Verbier Ski Resort, around 9:25 a.m. The helicopter was taking four guests and a guide for a heliskiing trip and was manned by one pilot. While the police report stated that 'unspecified reasons' caused the helicopter to slide off the peak of the Petit Combin at 3,668 meters (12,034 feet), eyewitnesses reported to British newspapers that an avalanche sent the helicopter down the north wall of the Petit Combin. The slope from Petit Combin runs at an angle of between 40-45°.

According to Swiss newspapers, the pilot and guide and one of the guests on board the helicopter were killed which is confirmed by the British newspaper The Telegraph which identified the three guests as British tourists. The Telegraph claims that the three British skiers survived the avalanche by jumping or being pushed from the sliding helicopter. They were identified as Edward Courage, Teddy Hitchens, and Guy Hitchens. Edward Courage is thought to have potentially pushed the Hitchens brothers out of the helicopter before jumping himself, although this could not reliably be verified. Courage is based in Verbier and heir to the Courage brewing family in the UK.

The Hitchens brothers were found quickly after by search and rescue teams and flown to a hospital in Sitten but Courage had apparently fallen into a crevasse. Courage was not found for another few hours. When he was located thanks to an avalanche beacon, he was winched out of the crevasse and flown to Sion Hospital where he remains with several unspecified fractures.

The deceased persons were identified as 45-year-old mountain guide Adam George from New Hampshire, helicopter pilot and father-of-two Jerome Lovey, and James Goff, whose nationality could not be independently verified.

Conditions on Tuesday were described as clear and there were about 10 inches of fresh snowfall.

The SUST (Swiss Safety Investigation Centre) is leading an investigation into the cause of the accident. The Federal Prosecutor's Office (BA) responsible for air accidents oversees the criminal investigations into this crash in cooperation with the Fedpol and the Cantonal Police Wallis/Valais.