A ten-year-old British schoolgirl has died after skiing into a tree at high speed while on a family holiday in the Austrian Alps.
Jemima Prees was killed after loosing control at the popular Mayrhofen resort where she was staying with family.
Witnesses say the girl was unable to stop after skiing into an off-piste area and hit the tree at top speed – suffering massive head and upper body injuries.
Jemima, of Colerne, near Chippenham, Wilts, was flown to a hospital in Innsbruck by helicopter within minutes of Sunday’s ski crash, but later died.
Police in Mayrhofen said the family was on the last run of the day when the girl careered into woodland and was knocked unconscious at the resort near Tirol, in Austria.
Her lawyer father Tim, 50 and her brother Barnaby, a student a university student, both witnessed the accident and attempted to administer first aid on the scene.
Witnesses say mum Karen, 46, a GP, had returned to the bottom of the mountain by cable car so was not there to see the horror accident.
It is unknown whether the girl’s sisters, Annabel and Olivia (Livi) Prees, were also on the family holiday.
Nobody was at the family cottage home today but a neighbour confirmed the sad news.
She said: “It’s terribly sad – I have no idea how her parents must be feeling to be honest. Jemima’s only ten. That poor little girl.
A local shop worker added: “They were a lovely family, they’ve lived in the village at least 18 years – I can’t believe what happened to them.
“She was a lovely little girl – the apple of her parents’ eye.”
Onlookers described how the slope was packed full of skiers, including school students, at ”the busiest time of the season”.
One local skier, who was on the slopes at the time, said: ”I saw a child leave the piste at a very fast speed.
“I stopped but was already too far down the slope. I heard a lot of screaming. A short while later I saw the helicopter landing at the scene.
”I am told a girl was seriously injured, but I did not see her.”
The mountain rescue team were called and paramedics also treated her on the slope.
One of the mountain rescuers, who was first at the scene, said yesterday: “It appeared to be a very serious injury.
”The child was in a bad condition when she was taken to hospital. It didn’t look good.
“She suffered head injuries. She was wearing a helmet, which will have helped her, but cannot protect from all injuries.
“Rescuers were at the scene very quickly and she was airlifted to Innsbruck shortly after the accident.”
One neighbour in Colerne also claimed the parents were donating Jemima’s organs to medicine.
She said: “I think her family are donating poor Jemima’s organs to other little children.
“It’s such a tragedy that seems to have brought the whole village together.”
Tim Prees is a lawyer specialising in Personal Dispute Resolution and Employment Law.
He qualified in Bath in 1988 and practiced at two large commercial practices in Bristol before joining Wansbroughs in Devizes, Wilts, in 1997 and became a partner in 2006.
Karen studied medicine at the University of Bristol and has worked as a GP partner for fifteen years in Batheaston.
Her practice’s website lists her as a GP trainer with a special interest in communication and consultation skills.
It says: ”Outside work, she is a busy mother of four children. She enjoys sailing, camping, piano, amateur dramatics and keeping fit.”
All of the family members are part of the Colerne Amateur Operatic Society who recently put on a pantomime, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.