News | World News | Max’s final minutes: How Australian family desperately battled to free their son, 16, with their bare hands after he was buried alive by an avalanche during tragic European skiing trip 

Max’s final minutes: How Australian family desperately battled to free their son, 16, with their bare hands after he was buried alive by an avalanche during tragic European skiing trip 

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Max's final minutes: How Australian family desperately battled to free their son, 16, with their bare hands after he was buried alive by an avalanche during tragic European skiing trip

  • Australian teen, 16, killed by avalanche during family skiing holiday in Austria
  • Max Meyer tragically died at the St Anton am Arlberg ski village on Wednesday
  • Teenager was buried alive by avalanche after family got stuck in steep terrain
  • The tragedy unfolded in front of his horrified parents and younger brother, 14 
  • Without supplies, the family could do nothing but dig with their bare hands  

By Max Margan and Daniel Piotrowski for Daily Mail Australia

Published: 22:22 EST, 10 January 2019 | Updated: 22:22 EST, 10 January 2019

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The helpless family of an Australian teenager watched in horror as he was buried under a mountain of snow in a deadly avalanche in the Austrian alps. 

Max Meyer, a 16-year-old Sydney International Grammar School student, was killed while skiing with his parents and brother in St Anton am Arlberg on Wednesday. 

When the avalanche hit the popular ski resort, Max's family could do nothing but dig with their bare hands.

They had no emergency supplies - not even a shovel.

Max Meyer, a 16-year-old Sydney International Grammar School student, was killed while skiing with his parents and brother in St Anton am Arlberg on Wednesday
Max Meyer, a 16-year-old Sydney International Grammar School student, was killed while skiing with his parents and brother in St Anton am Arlberg on Wednesday

Max Meyer, a 16-year-old Sydney International Grammar School student, was killed while skiing with his parents and brother in St Anton am Arlberg on Wednesday

When the avalanche hit the popular ski resort (pictured), Max's family could do nothing but dig with their bare hands
When the avalanche hit the popular ski resort (pictured), Max's family could do nothing but dig with their bare hands

When the avalanche hit the popular ski resort (pictured), Max's family could do nothing but dig with their bare hands

The tragedy began when the family, who were all experienced skiers, became stuck in 'rough, untracked and very steep terrain' at about 4.40pm local time.   

They made an emergency call, but were soon hit by an avalanche as they waited for rescuers to arrive. 

Max and his mother were covered with snow. The 55-year-old was able to free herself. 

Mountain Rescue team member Kurt Huettl told Nine News it was explained to the family that Max could not be saved, before the survivors were guided out on skis. 

Tributes have poured in for the 16-year-old, with a parent of a child at his high school describing him as 'such a bright boy'

The tragedy began when the family, who were all experienced skiers, became stuck in 'rough, untracked and very steep terrain' (pictured)
The tragedy began when the family, who were all experienced skiers, became stuck in 'rough, untracked and very steep terrain' (pictured)

The tragedy began when the family, who were all experienced skiers, became stuck in 'rough, untracked and very steep terrain' (pictured)

'We got them out, but it was the hard way out. We had to pass some trees and there is a river, there are rocks and so it was difficult to get them out,' he said. 

'Sadly we could not bring the young boy out this way, we had to use ropes to bring him him up.'  

Rescuers retrieved the boy's body in two metres of snow 20 minutes after arriving and were unable to revive him.

The teenager's German father and younger brother were uninjured in the avalanche.

The ski village is near the borders of Germany and Switzerland (pictured)
The ski village is near the borders of Germany and Switzerland (pictured)

The ski village is near the borders of Germany and Switzerland (pictured)

The Austrian ski village of St Anton am Arlberg (pictured) has been hit by heavy snowfall in recent days, where the Australian boy was killed by an avalanche
The Austrian ski village of St Anton am Arlberg (pictured) has been hit by heavy snowfall in recent days, where the Australian boy was killed by an avalanche

The Austrian ski village of St Anton am Arlberg (pictured) has been hit by heavy snowfall in recent days, where the Australian boy was killed by an avalanche

Tributes have poured in for the 16-year-old, with a parent of a child at his high school describing him as 'such a bright boy' who was 'always excited to learn new things'. 

It was 'such an enormous loss', the parent said. 

A fellow student wrote on Facebook: 'He was an absolutely buzz to be around and so smart, especially in languages. 

'He was always first to participate in initiatives at school and always striving to be more involved. Absolutely heartbreaking. He will missed by all of his peers.'

An autopsy will determine the cause of the teen's death in St Anton am Arlberg (pictured)
An autopsy will determine the cause of the teen's death in St Anton am Arlberg (pictured)

An autopsy will determine the cause of the teen's death in St Anton am Arlberg (pictured)

Parents at the school were told counsellors and senior staff would be on hand at the school today. 

'Max Meyer was about to enter Year 11, and his life has been tragically cut short,' the principal, Shauna Colnan, said. 

An autopsy will determine the exact cause of death, which is still the subject of ongoing police investigations.

The teenager was buried while skiing with his parents and brother in St Anton am Arlberg (pictured)
The teenager was buried while skiing with his parents and brother in St Anton am Arlberg (pictured)

The teenager was buried while skiing with his parents and brother in St Anton am Arlberg (pictured)

Daily Mail Australia has contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade for further comment. 

At least 15 people have died in the European snow chaos that has caused havoc across the continent in recent days.

The highest red warnings are in place in Germany and Austria with more heavy snow expected to fall in the coming days. 

At least 15 people have died in the European snow chaos in recent days, including an Australian teenager buried alive by an avalanche in St Anton am Arlberg (pictured)
At least 15 people have died in the European snow chaos in recent days, including an Australian teenager buried alive by an avalanche in St Anton am Arlberg (pictured)

At least 15 people have died in the European snow chaos in recent days, including an Australian teenager buried alive by an avalanche in St Anton am Arlberg (pictured)

More heavy snow is expected to fall with the highest red warnings are in place in Germany (pictured) and Austria
More heavy snow is expected to fall with the highest red warnings are in place in Germany (pictured) and Austria

More heavy snow is expected to fall with the highest red warnings are in place in Germany (pictured) and Austria

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