The two British victims who plunged to their deaths in the French Alps have been identified as a doctor and an account executive from Cambridge. Rajen Mahendra and friend Oscar Cassagneu-Francis, both 26, fell “several hundred metres” while skiing off-piste in Chamonix-Mont-Blanc. One of the falls was witnessed by Cassagneau-Francis' brother Oliver, 29, at Le Coulior Du Chapeau, a steep section of the famous Grands Montets ski area. He immediately raised alarm with piste patrol before the mountain police were called.
Both Oscar and Rajen were childhood friends, and grew up as neighbours on an upmarket street in Cambridge. Rajen's brother Ravi was also known to have gone on the ski holiday, however, was not on the slope at the time the tragedy struck. Both were known to be keen sportsman and the pair had skied together with their families in the past decade. The group had been skiing at an altitude of 1700 metres, and the weather was clear. They were making their way down the mountain when the first skier fell sharply, when the second went to help him, the third skier who was further back, also tumbled suddenly and fell down an icy, rocky terrain, facing imminent death.
The police said there was evidence that other skiers had skied the slope in previous days and men had believed they were safe to follow the tracks. A local source said, “The boys were on holiday with Inghams. Everyone there is in complete and utter shock. This is such a tragic accident. The British consulate has been here helping with everything. A local police spokesman said, “Three British men were skiing Le Couloir Du Chapeau. It is a steep off-piste area. The snow at the moment is very hard, it is not powder skiing. The conditions in the couloir are not good. The two men fell one after the other. They fell independently but within a couple of minutes of each other. 'They fell several hundred metres. For sure these men were good skiers but the conditions are not good. An investigation has been opened into the accident.”
Families of neither of the victims have addressed the accident in public. A family spokesman from the Foreign Office, Liam Herbert however, issued a statement saying, “The family would like to be left alone at this point. They would like some privacy and do not want to be disturbed.”