A former Royal Marine has died after being hit by a large boulder while climbing in the French Alps.
Duncan Potts, 28, climbed the Dent du Géant in the Mont Blanc massif near Chamonix on Wednesday with his friend Luke Stevens. A boulder broke loose in his hands and Potts fell about three meters, the Telegraph reported.
The boulder hit him in the head and shoulders and, despite a helicopter being dispatched by a mountain rescue team after Stevens managed to call for help, Potts died at the scene. Rescuer commander Stephane Bozon said the rock was “as big as a car trunk” and Potts appeared to have died instantly.
The accident happened on the first day of a planned four-day climb. Potts, from Coldridge in Devon, was an experienced climber and mountaineer and climbed the Matterhorn in Switzerland last summer.
He had recently left the Royal Marines and got engaged last month to April Lawson, an equine vet. She wrote on her Facebook profile: “You are my soul mate Mr. Potts and I was so lucky to find you. People spend their whole lives not meeting their one true love. I’m really grateful for the time we spent together. My good and handsome gentleman.
“You made me the happiest girl in the world in Rome when you asked me to marry you. I will treasure our memories and my beautiful engagement ring forever.
Andy Potts, his younger brother, said on Facebook: “I still have a hard time coming to terms with the fact that my big brother is no longer with us. Duncan had such an amazing group of friends and you all made his life so fun and special and I want to thank you all for being such a big part of her life.
His sister, Izzie Potts, wrote: “All of our hearts are well and truly broken without you, Duncan.”
Colonel Kevin Oliver of the Royal Marines Commando Training Center in Lympstone, Devon, paid tribute to Potts on behalf of his former colleagues. He said: “We knew him as a good young man who was a credit to the service, who left having achieved a lot in his career. The thoughts and sympathy of those who knew him go out to his family and friends.
The Foreign Office said it was providing consular assistance to his family.