Aleksas Beiga: 15-year-old son of former Olympics swimmer found dead in Switzerland avalanche among others

Aleksas Beiga: 15-year-old son of former Olympics swimmer found dead in Switzerland avalanche among others
Aleksas Beiga, who died in a Switzerland avalanche was an avid outdoor sports enthusiast who loved skiing (Kanal 13/ Facebook, GoFundMe)

VISP, SWITZERLAND: Aleksas Beiga, a 15-year-old boy from Illinois, has tragically lost his life in a massive avalanche near a ski resort in Zermatt, Switzerland.

The incident occurred on Easter Monday, April 1, and claimed the lives of three people, including Aleksas, who is the son of Olympics swimmer, Nerijus Beiga. A fourth person was injured and airlifted to a nearby hospital.

Aleksas Beiga: 'Beacon of kindness and intelligence'

Aleksas, described by friends as a ‘beacon of kindness and intelligence,’ was an avid outdoor sports enthusiast who loved skiing.

A GoFundMe fundraiser, organized by Neringa Mockus for his family, quoted, “Words cannot capture the depth of sorrow we feel, nor adequately express the profound loss of a young soul so full of promise, joy, and vitality."

The fundraiser added, "At the tender age of 15, Aleksas embodied the essence of youth – his infectious laughter, boundless energy, and compassionate heart touched the lives of all who knew him.”

Aleksas’ father, Nerijus Beiga, is a former professional swimmer from Lithuania who competed in the 1992 Summer Olympics.

He now runs a Chicago-based company that restores homes damaged by emergencies like fire or flooding, according to Daily Mail.

Aleksas Beiga was a ray of sunshine and more than a son, grandson, and brother 

Friends on GoFundMe described Aleksas as more than just a son, grandson, brother, and friend.

"He was a ray of sunshine that brightened every room he entered. His vivacity, zest for life, warmth, and empathy were unparalleled," it described.

"Whether through a witty joke or a thoughtful gesture, Aleksas had a profound impact on all who crossed his path," the organizer added.

"The sudden loss of Aleksas has left an irreparable void in the hearts of his family and friends" detailed the fundraiser organizer, adding, "The pain of his absence is immeasurable, and the grief weighs heavily on all who knew and loved him."

How did the avalanche occur?

According to local media, the area at some 8200ft had received heavy snow during Easter Weekend.

The avalanche reportedly hit while the skiers were in a deep snow zone beyond the designated ski trails.

'It looked to me as if there were several people on the slope at the time of the avalanche,' a witness told local outlet Blick.


Post-avalanche rescue operations

Following the avalanche, a team of 45 rescuers, supported by eight dog handlers, 13 specialists, 15 firefighters, and ski instructors, searched for the missing.

Authorities reported a 15-year-old American among the deceased, with two others pending identification, and a 20-year-old injured Swiss man was recovered.

Snowy mountains were buffeted with strong 'hurricane-force' winds

Bruno Jelk, the former head of Zermatt's mountain rescue and now in charge of Mattertal's avalanche monitoring, reported that several skiers had strayed off-piste onto a "very steep slope." 

Anjan Truffer, head of rescue at Air Zermatt, said, "The search wasn't that easy at the beginning. The slopes are 100 per cent secured. There is no safety risk for people who only spend time on the slopes."

With mountains buffeted by strong "hurricane force" winds, "very large, and in some cases extremely large, spontaneous avalanches are to be expected," the Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research said as per Daily Mail.

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