Funerals Held for Four Italian Rescuers

By Dana Betlevy
Dana Betlevy
Dana Betlevy
December 28, 2009 Updated: December 28, 2009

ROME—The funerals of four rescue workers who died attempting to find two tourists buried in an avalanche were held on Dec. 29 according to Italian media. A series of avalanches killed seven people in the Trentino region, northern Italy, including the four rescue workers, two tourists, and a 12-year-old boy.

The team of rescue workers started out at 6 p.m. on Saturday Dec. 26 searching for Fabio Baron, 30, and Diego Andreatta, 31, who went missing after an avalanche that day. A second avalanche surprised the rescuers at an altitude of 2,750m (9,022 feet) while they were exploring the area.

The head of civil protection services, Guido Bertolaso, said the loss of life could have been avoided. “I’m tired of seeing our rescuers losing their lives because there are people who go to hike unprepared, or without taking into account the warnings,” he said to Libero news. “Enough with the deaths for the mistakes of others.”

Weather bulletins on the day announced the highest level of risk of avalanches in Trentino.

The Italian Alpine Club said in a statement that the rescuers should still intervene when conditions are prohibitive and risk is high; which is what they did on Dec. 26.

The rescue workers who died were Perathoner Diego, 42, Ervin Ritz, 32, Luke Prinot, 43, and Danton Alessandro, 39, all born in the Fassa Valley, a famous Italian tourist region. The team of rescuers included Platter Roberto and Sergio Valentini, who were both hospitalized for hypothermic shock and discharged on Sunday, and Martin Riz, who remained unharmed.

The seventh victim of inclement weather was a German boy, aged 12, who was skiing in the same area and was also trapped by an avalanche.

The number of avalanches has remained unchanged over the past decade in Italy, but the number of victims has declined significantly, according to the official Web site of the Interregional Association for Snow and Avalanches (www.aineva.it). Nevertheless, those trapped in avalanches rarely survive.

Dana Betlevy