Brit skier, faces manslaughter trial over death of Italian ex mayor

Brit skier, 30, faces manslaughter trial after Italian ex mayor, 78, died when he ploughed into him from behind having ‘failed to keep the necessary distance and moderate speed’ on Dolomites piste

  • Rizieri Ongaro died after the collision with Rhys Phillips on the Fertazza slope on March 8 last year 

A British man is on trial for manslaughter over a skiing collision that left an Italian ex mayor dead.

Rhys Phillips, 30, is accused of negligence after ploughing into 78-year-old Rizieri Ongaro from behind on March 8 last year on the Fertazza slope at the Civetta ski resort in the Dolomites.

The accusation against Phillips, from Aldershot, Hampshire, is based on the alleged violation of the rules governing skiing, ‘failing to keep the necessary distance and moderate speed due to the co-presence of other skiers on the stretch’. 

Phillips, a British national currently living in Denmark, was visiting the Dolomites for a week-long tour of the slopes with his girlfriend and a group of other Danish skiers when disaster struck.

The young English skier suffered a shoulder contusion in the impact, while Ongaro’s injuries were fatal.

Rizieri Ongaro died aged 78, on March 8 last year, after a skiing accident on the Fertazza slope at the Civetta ski resort in the Dolomites

Rhys Phillips, 30, is accused of manslaughter after he ‘ploughed’ into Ongaro from behind

The Fertazza slope at the Civetta ski resort in the Dolomites (stock picture)

The trial, which kicked off on November 7 at a court in Belluno, will hear from all the witnesses requested by the parties on May 20 next year.

Among them, two eyewitnesses who were travelling on a chairlift and saw the accident from above will also be heard as well as rescuers who were the first to provide assistance.

The medical examiner, Antonello Cirnelli, will also be called into the courtroom.

Cirnelli, on behalf of the Belluno public prosecutor’s office, established that the cause of Ongaro’s death was the impact between the skiers, thus excluding the possibility of an illness as cause of death. 

Ongaro, who maintained a ‘beastly physique’ that allowed him to carry his skis on his shoulders that day, died from ‘metahemorrhagic shock from post-traumatic bilateral massive thoracic hemopneuma’.

Phillips is being defended by two lawyers from Milan. 

At the next hearing he will be heard in the courtroom, to give his version of the events with the help of an interpreter.

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