Sydney heliskier dies in avalanche in NZ

A heliskier from Sydney has died in an avalanche near Queenstown yesterday.

The incident happened near the Devil’s staircase in the Hector Mountains at around 2:45pm. Roger Greville, 68, was pulled from the avalanche but died shortly after. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr Greville is originally from New Zealand, but had been living in Australia for many years. He was part of the 20 heliskiiers who were caught in the avalanche yesterday.

The cause of Mr Greville’s death is still unknown.

Southern Lakes Heliski, the guided trip operator, announced that it  has cancelled its operations today despite good weather.

“Whilst other companies may continue to operate, a decision to resume our operations will be made later today when we have had time to complete a detailed analysis of yesterday’s events as well as our systems and procedures,” the statement said.

“We remain committed to aiding the external investigation team and have confidence that they will be able to determine the exact cause of this tragic accident,” it added.

“Our thoughts remain with the family and friends of the deceased.”

Chris Prudden, Alpine Cliff Rescue team co-leader, said that there was new snow in the area, so there are spots that are more sensitive.

“It’s a signal to everyone you’ve got to be continuously vigilant on snow conditions,” he said. “It doesn’t matter even if the avalanche advisory report says the hazard is low, you’ve still got to be vigilant.

Mr Greville’s body, which is scheduled to have a post-mortem today, will soon be brought to Queensland. The death has also been referred to the coroner.