Tributes to young doctor killed in Glencoe avalanche

Une Finnegan fell 1000ft when a sheet of snow gave way beneath her
Une Finnegan fell 1000ft when a sheet of snow gave way beneath her
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A JUNIOR doctor living in Edinburgh was among the four people swept to their deaths in an avalanche in Glencoe.

Una Finnegan, 25, was one of a party of six descending a steep incline on Bidean Nam Bian on Saturday afternoon when a sheet of snow gave way beneath them.

One man was able to jump clear of the collapsing snow, but the others were carried 1000ft to the bottom of the mountain at speeds up to 50mph. A major search operation was launched involving mountain rescue teams and specialist police dogs.

Two of the other young mountaineers who died have been named as Christopher William Bell, 24, from Blackpool, who was a PhD student studying ocean mapping in Oban, and Tom Chesters, 28, from Leeds, a PhD student at Hull University. Police said the family of the other woman who died has requested her name be withheld until her extended family is informed.

Another woman, believed to be a 24-year-old from Durham, is still critically ill in Glasgow’s Southern General Hospital.

Dr Finnegan, who is understood to have worked for NHS Fife, came originally from Northern Ireland, where her father Dr Owen Finnegan was a consultant at the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine in Co Londonderry.

David McClarty, an independent councillor from Coleraine, said his thoughts and prayers were with the Finnegan family. He said: “This young woman, a qualified doctor, had her whole life ahead of her and then it is tragically cut short.

“The family is a Christian one and hopefully they will get some comfort from the fact that she died doing something she enjoyed.”

Ms Finnegan studied in medicine at Newcastle University and came to Edinburgh to do a masters in Anthropology of Health and Illness.

The deputy leader of the Glencoe Mountain Rescue Team, Andy Nelson, said the avalanche would have been a brutal experience.

“It would have unfolded in a split second,” he said. “They would have felt the snow moving and then they would have been travelling at a speed that was impossible to stop.

“They slid over some very rocky ground and ended up about 1000ft below, under between one-and-a-half and two metres of snow.

“There are enormous forces at work and you are being twisted about at high speed.”