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Suffolk snowboarder dies after five day fight

Emily Watts, who's also known as Mimi Photo: PA

A British student who suffered a horrific snowboarding accident in the French Alps has died, her family has said.

Emily Watts, known as Mimi, fell headfirst into a snowdrift and was stuck for about 45 minutes following the incident in Chamonix on Saturday.

By the time emergency crews arrived, the 26-year-old, from Lavenham in Suffolk, had suffered a cardiac arrest, prompting fears of brain damage.

Her parents, Nicky McAllister and Dominic Watts, along with her 27-year-old brother Rory, flew to France to be by her bedside.

But after a number of days on a life support machine, she died earlier today, Miss Watts' aunt Shona Pollock said.

In a statement issued before Miss Watts' death, her family said the outlook was "very bleak" but the support they had received from friends and family had been "heart-warming".

They met with rescuers this week to establish a better picture of what had happened and discovered a British man had raised the alarm.

The statement explained that Emily was at the edge of the piste where the snow was compacted and safe, but she caught an edge and was catapulted into a 70cm pile of powder, and it would have been impossible to see her unless you were within two metres of the accident site.

It adds that a British man saw a mark in the snow as he skied past, stopped and ran back up the slope to look. The family say they're grateful for the man's efforts but that they've been "consumed with grief" since the accident happened.

"It's so sad.

"Mimi is a fabulous, outgoing character, plucky, and someone who loved the mountains.

"She is adored by her brother.

"She's just a thoroughly positive, optimistic, lovely girl."

– Shona Pollock, Emily's aunt

French police were unable to notify the family for a day as Miss Watts was not wearing any identification, Ms Pollock said.

The design student was evacuated to hospital in nearby Annecy before being transferred to a specialist unit.

It is believed no-one else was involved in the accident.

The experienced snowboarder had been in France for a few weeks and was working at the resort, her aunt said.

Miss Watts was in the Grands Montets, the largest pisted skiing area in the Chamonix Valley, on the first day of the season when the accident happened.

She reportedly suffered the cardiac arrest while rescuers were struggling to reach her at the top of the Pierre a Ric run.

She had previously studied costume design at Sussex University and had attended a local convent in Bury St Edmunds, her aunt said.

She was due to begin a masters degree course in design.

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