Page last updated at 21:01 GMT, Tuesday, 3 March 2009

UK snowboarder is killed in Alps

Rob Williams
Rob Williams had been hailed as one of the UK's top young entrepreneurs

A British snowboarder has plunged 60 feet to his death from a cliff in the Swiss Alps.

A search was launched on Monday after Rob Williams, from Liverpool, went missing with his friend Jason Tavaria.

The pair, both 29, are thought to have got lost in a forest after being separated from their group in the resort of Verbier.

Detail of the rescue operation was played out through updates on the social networking site Twitter.

Swiss police said Mr Williams' body was found in a stream at the foot of a cliff near the resort, in the Valais region.

The men had been on holiday with a group of internet entrepreneurs, which included Michelle Dewberry, winner of the second series of TV show The Apprentice.

Dewberry triggered the online rescue on Twitter when she wrote: : "2 of our ski party been missing since 4pm. Conditions terrible. 1 guy found but trapped. 20 man team searching for other."

Map showing Verbier

Fellow entrepreneur Alex Hoye updated Twitter with a series of messages on Monday night, the first of which called for help from the online community.

He wrote: "Urgent: If anyone has or knows Rob Williams of Dolphin Music's mobile, please send. Mtn rescue in progress."

The post was followed by another update which read: "Rob's number rec'd via Twitter; Jason now found using GPS / Google maps & phone (@joshmarch org'd); still working on finding Rob."

TechCrunch UK website editor and Twitter member Mike Butcher posted a series of messages on the site during Tuesday.

He wrote: "I just got off the phone to one member of the trip. They said: 'Everyone literally said they'd just had the best time on the trip. And then it went straight to the opposite. We are all in shock'."

School friends

Mr Williams and Mr Tavaria were school friends in St Albans, Hertfordshire, before studying in Liverpool.

There, they combined their student loans with start up funding to found online music equipment retailer Dolphin Music.

It later expanded to include three high street shops in Liverpool, Gateshead and Huddersfield.

Their success was highlighted by the Make Your Mark campaign, a collaboration between British business organisations to encourage enterprise.

Last year, their group's sales topped 10m and they employed 60 staff.

A spokesman for the Foreign Office said: "We can confirm the death of a British national in Verbier."

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