Spring Break Tourist Killed in Avalanche

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The American teenager who died in an avalanche in Switzerland on Monday, April 1, 2024, while skiing during spring break has been identified.

Aleksas Beiga, a 15-year-old student from Naperville (Ilinois) Central High School, lost his life in a catastrophic avalanche near a Swiss resort. The avalanche occurred around 2 p.m. in an off-piste (outside or beyond a designated ski run) area of the Riffelberg, claiming the lives of three people, including Beiga, a 25-year-old Canadian woman, and a 58-year-old Swiss man. However, a 20-year-old Swiss man was rescued with severe injuries.

The Riffelberg is a region in the Swiss Alps associated with the area around Zermatt, a mountain resort renowned for skiing, climbing, and hiking. It is situated near Gornergrat, which offers spectacular views of the Matterhorn and surrounding mountains. Due to its picturesque scenery and challenging terrain, it’s a popular destination for outdoor activities, including winter sports and summer hikes.

Beiga, the son of former Olympic swimmer Nerijus Beiga, who represented Lithuania in the 1992 and 1996 Summer Olympics, was remembered by friends and family as a beacon of joy and kindness. His passion for outdoor sports, especially skiing, was well-known among his peers.

A GoFundMe page was set up by a friend of Aleksus’ father, Neringa Mockus, to assist the Beiga family with expenses related to the incident. The fundraising effort has raised over $56,000.

“The abrupt passing of Aleksas has created an unfillable gap in the lives of his family and companions; the agony brought on by his departure is beyond measure, and those who cherished him carry the burden of this profound sorrow,” as expressed by Mockus on the fundraising page.

The teenager’s death has been a severe blow to his family, including his mother, Sonata, and his sister, Eva, 20, who shared that Aleksas’ adventurous spirit brought them countless cherished memories. Local authorities and rescuers responded to the avalanche, with efforts complicated by strong winds and heavy snowfall.

The rescue operation included a team of 45 individuals, supported by dog handlers and ski instructors. The conditions in the area had been flagged for increased avalanche risk following significant snow during the Easter weekend.

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