St Albans father speaks of son's death in Swiss snowboarding accident

PUBLISHED: 13:01 04 March 2009 | UPDATED: 13:57 06 May 2010

Rob Williams

Rob Williams

A HEARTBROKEN father has spoken about the death of his son, one of Britain s leading young entrepreneurs who died after plunging down a mountain during a snowboarding trip. Plumber Peter Williams of Wynchlands Crescent, St Albans, described his son Rob as

A HEARTBROKEN father has spoken about the death of his son, one of Britain's leading young entrepreneurs who died after plunging down a mountain during a snowboarding trip.

Plumber Peter Williams of Wynchlands Crescent, St Albans, described his son Rob as "twice the son you could ever hope for".

Rob Williams, aged 29, died after he and his business partner and best friend Jason Tavaria, with whom he ran a multi-million-pound music firm, became separated from their party during a blizzard on the slopes at the Swiss ski resort of Verbier. They were on a trip with Michelle Dewberry, the winner of BBC television reality show The Apprentice.

Urgent appeals were posted by her on the Twitter website and Mr Tavaria, also 29, sent his friends and rescue teams a GPS satellite navigation signal from his iPhone, which pinpointed his location. He was rescued six hours later.

But Mr Williams had fallen nearly 70 feet down a cliff onto rocks below and due to the white-out conditions, a rescue helicopter could not be scrambled. Search teams on foot found him seven hours after he had gone missing, by which time the businessman had died in the freezing conditions.

Mr Tavaria, a former pupil of Verulam School, is the son of Eileen and Freddy Tavaria who still live at Cherry Tree Avenue, London Colney. He and Mr Williams, who went to Beaumont School, have been friends since they were aged 13.

The business partners went to Liverpool University and launched the music equipment and instrument firm Dolphin Music, which has several shops and is one of the leading providers of musical equipment on the internet.

It employs 54 staff and achieved sales of more than £9 million in 2007 when it was ranked Britain's 11th fastest-growing company.

Proud father Mr Williams said: "Rob was a wonderful son. How many sons get to give advice to the Prime Minister?" His son is also survived by his mother Elham and sister Emma, aged 28.

The two men were among a party of 30 young entrepreneurs, many of whom work in new technology, who flew to Switzerland last Friday on a working holiday.

At about 4pm on Monday the group noticed that two of their number were missing.

The party put out a request on Twitter in order to discover the numbers of the men's mobile phones so they could use the signals to track them down.

The "tweet" was forwarded round the world and soon afterwards the numbers came back to the group via the networking site.

The party was able to call the missing snowboarders on their mobile phones and Mr Tavaria used Google Maps to alert rescue teams to their precise location.

The men were found at 11pm. Mr Tavaria was uninjured but Mr Williams had slipped down the steep mountain face and landed on the rocks.

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