WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — An Australian police officer has died in an avalanche while mountain climbing in New Zealand, police said Friday.
New Zealand Police identified the man as 40-year-old Nathan Deutschbein. They said he had been climbing with another person in the Aoraki/Mount Cook area in central South Island when the avalanche struck Thursday afternoon.
The other climber suffered minor injuries and was transported to a nearby town for treatment. A third member of the group had stayed behind in a hut that day because he wasn’t feeling well.
An online fundraising page said Deutschbein is survived by his wife, Skye Deutschbein, and two young daughters. Skye Deutschbein wrote on Instagram that the family could not imagine a world without their “Captain Awesome.”
Inspector Dave Gaskin told Radio New Zealand the two were climbing Eugenie Glacier when the weather changed and they decided to turn back.
“But unfortunately as they were coming down they triggered a small avalanche and were swept away for a very short distance,” Gaskin said. “One of them was buried.”
He said the second climber managed to get himself out from under the snow and tried to save his friend, but it was too late. He said conditions aren’t good at this time of year but that many people climb in the area.
“It’s just people taking chances,” he told RNZ. “Sometimes they get away with it, and unfortunately on this occasion, they didn’t.”
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