18/02/2012 13:25 GMT | Updated 21/02/2012 11:21 GMT

Snowboarding Accident Kills British Mother Sandra Thompson After An 'Innocuous Little Fall'


An "innocuous little fall" during a family ski holiday killed British woman Sandra Thompson, with relatives forced to make the difficult decision to switch off her life support machine 48 hours after the accident.

The 59-year-old was an experienced snowboarder, and was wearing a helmet when she knocked her head at the Austrian resort of Kitzbuhel.

However the mother-of-two had to be airlifted to hospital, and never regained consciousness, after the fall left her with severe brain swelling.

Doctors at Innsbruck University Hospital explained to relatives there was nothing more that could be done for Mrs Thompson, as she had suffered a subdural hematoma. Four days after the family holiday began, her ventilator was switched off.

The tragic accident echoes that of actress Natasha Richardson, who died after hitting her head on ski slopes in 2009.

The trip was the seventh time Mrs Thompson had been snowboarding, and was on the trip with her husband and two grown-up sons, James, 30, and Christopher, 25, as part of her 59th birthday celebrations.

Husband David Thompson explained that his wife fell whilst snowboarding down a much easier "blue" route, and that they had both navigated much more difficult ski slopes in the past.

“On the Monday we went up the mountain, had lunch and went up to the top to do the easier, blue run and said ‘We’ll have an easy run down and just enjoy it.’

“Sandra said to me ‘You go ahead and I’ll catch you up’. I went ahead and waited but when I looked back I couldn’t see her.

“My youngest son, Christopher, was snowboarding with her and she just went up a small rise and toppled backwards and hit her head on the snow.

“She was wearing a helmet and my son was with her within 10 seconds, but she was already unconscious.

“He waved for me to come back and I walked back thinking her snowboard had broken or she’d had a minor fall.

“But by the time I got there they had already called the air ambulance."

The family are holding a funeral on 27 February. Married for over 30 years, her husband added:

"She was always there for myself and the boys. The house feels so empty without her."