Court begins hearing case of men who led illegal Alpine hikes causing death of two women

A court in České Budějovice has begun hearing the case of two men accused of causing the death of two women in the Austrian Alps due to negligence and misconduct. The men are accused of illegally leading expeditions through the Alps without a licence.

The first woman died in 2019 when one of the men organised an expedition of two dozen people to Austria, but instead sent his friend, the second of the two men, in his place as leader of the group. According to the South Bohemian police, this second man was not qualified to be a professional mountain guide and did not have the necessary experience to lead such a large number of people in difficult terrain. He also went ahead with the expedition despite warnings about bad weather and possible thunderstorms. The police argue that as a result of all these factors, one member of the group, a 24-year-old woman, slipped and suffered fatal injuries after a steep fall during a dangerous descent.

The Czech Association of Mountain Guides expelled the first man from the association and he lost his guide qualification. However, he continued to organise other tours even without a license, and in 2020, he organised another group hike where another woman died after the guide failed to properly respond to the signs she was showing of mental and physical exhaustion. The woman fell from a height of about 50 metres during the descent and died. In both cases, the accused men tried to conceal from the authorities the fact that they were the organisers of the expedition.

Author: Anna Fodor