Investigation Underway After 99 Schoolchildren Rescued in Austria Alpine Hike 


They were airlifted to safety near the small ski area of Walmendingerhorn after the weather closed in. The teachers put them on a difficult trail after consulting an online guide. Criminal charges could be brought.

The pupils and staff came from over the border in Ludwigshafen in Germany.

There were 99 children and eight members of school staff.

The pupils were aged from 12-years old to 14-years old.

They were attempting to hike from Schöntal in Hirschegg/Kleinwalsertal over the Heuberggrat to the Walmendingerhorn and then to Mittelberg.

A teacher had found what was described as a “classic evening walk” using an internet search tool.

In fact the route was exposed and had sections that advised experience and climbing equipment.

The local police said that “the route in question was described on the internet as a classic after-work hike.”

In fact, the narrow Heuberggrat is a partially exposed path with climbing passages that require a head for heights, sure-footedness and experience in alpine terrain.

Some in the group decided to turn back as the terrain became more difficult and rain began to fall.

“The conditions were extremely difficult, especially since not all students wore the best shoes,” said the police.

Two pupils slipped and fell sustaining minor injuries.

A teacher then decided to call the emergency services, prompting the rescue operation.

All of the group were winched from the mountainside by ropes suspended from helicopters.

Vorarlberg police said more than 60 rescuers, including the local mayor, took part in the rescue operation.

  • 10 people from the Walser rescue team
  • 1 emergency doctor
  • 40 people from the Kleinwalsertal mountain rescue services
  • 5 people from the FFW Mittelberg
  • 3 people from KIT
  • The local mayor
  • 2 people from the Kleinwalsertal police station

“Several students were exhausted, chilled, wet and completely distraught,” said the police in a statement.

A crisis intervention team was called in.

All students and teachers received first aid from the rescue and were registered by the police.

A local youth hostel provided the students who had been rescued with warm drinks and food.

Two children suffered minor injuries to their upper bodies and legs.

An investigation is underway and it will be sent to the public prosecutor’s office in Feldkirch to decide if criminal charges need to be made.

Image c/o PlanetSKI

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