Pisteur Killed at Pra Loop

A pisteur has been killed by an avalanche in the Pra-Loup ski station (Hautes-Alpes).  Joël Proal, 38 years old, had been wearing an avalanche transceiver and his body was found by a member of the Jausiers section of the PGHM.  The victim died from cardio-respiratory arrest, according to the initial medical reports.  He was part of a group who were securing the ski domain by controlled avalanche release when he was hit by a secondary slide.  The alert was given at 10h15 and a team of sixty rescuers were quickly on the scene.

The recent large snowfalls hindered the rescue efforts and there are reports that the rescuer’s Arva 9000 avalanche transceiver was affected by mobile phone transmissions.

=== Update 6th January 2006 ===

Seven people were accused manslaughter and deliberate disregarded for safety and care at Digne court on the 5th January following the death of a member of the Pra-Loup piste patrol. Joël Proal had been securing the ski runs in the resort using explosives along with his colleagues. While descending to the resort on skis he became separated from the rest of the group and was buried by an avalanche. The prosecutor said that what followed was a series of errors by the piste patrol especially with respect to the delay in notifying the High Mountain Police (PGHM). He has asked for a 1 year suspended jail term for the former head of piste security Thierry Sellier and Philippe Battler a member of the piste patrol. Mr Sellier resigned from his post following the accident. The prosecutor also asked for unspecified fines for Bruno Vaginay mayor of Pra-Loup, Philippe Gausset director of Transmontagne. There were a total of 7 defendants. The court decided to acquit all the defendants. Mr. Bruno Vaginay said it was “a relief for him, not a victory”.

Related News
Digital Avalanche Transceivers affected by Mobile Phones

Posted by on Monday, 25 December, 2000 at 09:02 PM

On the 5th of January 2006 the court at Digne said that the lack of an autopsie on the victim mean that the exact cause of death was unknown so that a link between his death and the catalogue of errors in the search and rescue operation could not be made. The six defendents of Transmontagne were acquitted. The prosecutor and the family of Joël Proal appealed and a new trial took place in Aix appeal court on the 21st of January 2008.

The court went over the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr Proal, a piste patroller working on avalanche control work for the resort of Pra Loup:  lack of training in search and rescue, errors in using avalanche beacons, a faulty defibrillator, ignoring obvious clues such as the victim’s ski pole visible on the surface and the final discovery of his body beneath a piste basher that had come to the scene. The prosecutor has asked for suspended prison sentences against the piste patroller and mayor of Pra Loup and a fine for Transmontagne (currently in liquidation). The Mayor defended himself saying that his job was to provide the resources for search and rescue but their organization was the responsibility of Transmontagne. [note: the Loi de la Montagne states that the organization of rescue within a ski domain is the ultimate responsibility of the mayor and the director of piste services]. Judgement will be given later.

Posted by davidof on  Monday, 28 January, 2008  at 11:25 AM

In a further appeal in this long running case the head of rescue operations has been sentenced to 3 months in prison by the appeal court in Aix en Provence. The sentence was suspended. Transmontagne, now bankrupt, was also found liable.

Posted by davidof on  Wednesday, 14 May, 2008  at 09:45 AM
Page 1 of 1 pages

Comments are now closed



Archive Summary

Forum Posts

Sunday, 19 May, 2013

Girl survives 4 nights out at 4000m on the Vert

Posted by juice at 11:44 PM
• (3) Posts • (1891) views •

Monday, 29 April, 2013

Colorado's deadliest slide in 50 years

Posted by Simon Scott at 01:41 PM
• (3) Posts • (1582) views •


Thursday, 25 April, 2013

PGHM Officer killed near Ref Argentiere

Posted by juice at 01:38 PM
• (5) Posts • (1643) views •

Friday, 19 April, 2013

avalanche in st christophe

Posted by davidski at 11:32 AM
• (1) Posts • (1401) views •

Monday, 15 April, 2013

Avalanche on the Tete de Chevrette, Vallorcine

Posted by Alan Scowcroft at 04:57 PM
• (1) Posts • (1379) views •

Thursday, 11 April, 2013

Alpine Bindings

Posted by djfrost at 10:08 PM
• (10) Posts • (1521) views •