Scots dad’s miraculous survival after being buried alive under 12ft of snow

A Scots dad has shared his harrowing experience of being trapped under 12 feet of snow for 20 minutes after an avalanche hit him while he was skiing in the Alps. John MacKenzie, 43, from Edinburgh, was on a ski holiday with his wife and two children in Les Arcs, France, when the disaster struck on December 18. He said he felt like he was “in a washing machine” as he was swept away by the snow and lost consciousness.

How it happened

John, who works as a software engineer, said he and his family had been enjoying a sunny day on the slopes when they decided to take a break at a restaurant. He said he wanted to do one more run before joining them, so he took a different route that was marked as safe by the resort. He said he had skied about 100 metres when he heard a loud rumble behind him.

“I turned around and saw this huge wall of snow coming towards me. It was like a scene from a movie. I tried to ski away from it, but it was too fast. It hit me with incredible force and knocked me off my feet. I felt like I was in a washing machine, spinning and tumbling. I tried to keep my mouth closed and create an air pocket with my hands, but the snow was so heavy and dense. I couldn’t breathe. I thought I was going to die,” he said.

The rescue

John said he lost consciousness after a few minutes and had no idea how long he was buried. He said he was lucky that he had activated his avalanche transceiver, a device that emits a signal that can be detected by rescuers. He said he also had an avalanche airbag, a backpack that inflates to keep the wearer on the surface of the snow, but it did not deploy properly.

Scots dad’s miraculous survival after being buried alive under 12ft of snow

He said he was found by a team of ski patrollers who had been alerted by his wife, who had seen the avalanche from the restaurant. They used probes and shovels to dig him out of the snow. He said he was shocked when he regained consciousness and saw their faces.

“I couldn’t believe I was alive. I was so grateful to see them. They told me I had been under the snow for 20 minutes, which is a very long time. They said I was very lucky to survive. They gave me oxygen and checked my vital signs. I had a broken rib, a bruised lung and some cuts and bruises, but nothing serious. They took me to the hospital by helicopter, where I was reunited with my family,” he said.

The aftermath

John said he was discharged from the hospital the next day and was able to fly back to Scotland with his family. He said he was still in shock and had nightmares about the incident. He said he was thankful to be alive and to have his family by his side.

He said he wanted to share his story to raise awareness about the dangers of avalanches and the importance of having the right equipment and training. He said he had taken an avalanche safety course before his trip and had rented the transceiver and the airbag from the resort. He said he also had a helmet, a whistle and a phone with him.

He said he hoped his story would inspire other skiers and snowboarders to be more careful and prepared when they go off-piste. He said he still loved skiing and would not let the incident stop him from enjoying the sport, but he would be more cautious in the future.

“I think I had a guardian angel watching over me that day. It was a miracle that I survived. I don’t want anyone else to go through what I went through. I want people to know that avalanches can happen anywhere, anytime, and they can be deadly. You need to have the right gear and the right knowledge to stay safe. You also need to listen to your instincts and avoid risky situations. It’s not worth risking your life for a bit of fun,” he said.

By Zane Lee

Zane Lee is a talented content writer at Cumbernauld Media, specializing in the finance and business niche. With a keen interest in the ever-evolving world of finance, Zane brings a unique perspective to his articles and blog posts. His in-depth knowledge and research skills allow him to provide valuable insights and analysis on various financial topics. Zane's passion for writing and his ability to simplify complex concepts make his content engaging and accessible to readers of all levels.

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