The devastated parents of a young skier killed in a collision with a snow cannon believe better safety measures might have saved his life.

Aleksander Owens-Thurston, aged 23, died almost instantly after the high-speed crash in the Austrian resort of Kaprun on a family holiday last week.

His heartbroken father said the accident had left "a huge hole in all of our lives" but added he hoped lessons his son's death could help to save other lives.

Phillip Owens-Thurston, of Brighton Road, Hooley, near Coulsdon, said: "We are still stunned by it.

"He was just a young man and had his whole life ahead of him. It is such a waste.

"He lived life to the full and it is just a tragedy that he has been taken from us.

"I don't begrudge a second of the time we have had with him, but I begrudge the moments that we will now never have.

"It is my 50th birthday this year. How am I going to celebrate that without my son? There's a huge hole in all of our lives.

"He was such a wonderful young man and he will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him. But we have to go on."

Croydon Guardian:

Aleksander in Kaprun, the resort where he died

Adventurous Aleksander, an experienced skier who also enjoyed diving and rugby, crashed after losing his footing on a steep route near St Anton, the resort where his family had been staying. 

He is thought to have be hurtling at nearly 50mph when he collided with a metal girder that supports the snow cannon, which pumps snow onto the slope.

The Surrey University economics graduate was not wearing a helmet when he crashed into part of the machine that was not covered with protective padding.

His father, 49, said: "Where he hit his head would not have really been covered by a helmet anyway. The one thing that might have saved him is the padding.

"Maybe they should invest in putting this in place. Not just where we were skiing, not just in Austria, but everywhere.

"If what's happened to Aleks can save even one life then we can take something away from it. At the moment we have nothing."

Croydon Guardian:

Aleksander with girlfriend Ellis, of Taunton

Aleksander, a former Caterham High School pupil, moved to Reading late last year to start working for an IT firm.

He was on holiday with his dad, mum Kasia, 48, and 21-year-old  brother Richard when died.

His father said the family took solace in knowing he "doing something that he loved".

He said: "We go skiing every year and we have been doing that for ten years. He was the best of us - a very good skier. He had a big grin on his face all that day.

"We just hope something positive can come out of his death, because his life was so positive."