20-year-old East Lancashire man dies in snowboarding accident

Blackburn Citizen: Michael Handley Michael Handley

A COUPLE have paid tribute to their ‘inspirational’ son after he died in a snowboarding accident in France.

Michael Handley was an accomplished snowboarder who had been working winter seasons in Mont-de-Lan for the past two years while training for the British Snowboarding Championships.

The 20-year-old had decided to snowboard down one of the mountains on the alpine resort, Les Deux Alpes, when the accident happened.

His family said it was a route that he had taken many times before, but after becoming airborne part way through the run, he landed badly.

MORE TOP STORIES:

He tumbled 200 metres downhill and was left with a serious head injury.

Michael was treated for his injuries in the nearby Grenoble University Hospital and was on the same ward as Formula 1 driver Michael Schumacher who had been injured in a skiing accident.

After two days of intensive care, he passed away with his family by his side.

Dad Tony and Mum Tracey described their son as popular, lively and ‘the life and soul of the party’.

Tony said: “He was an inspiration to me. He was my son and he made me want to do more with my life.

“He was so young but he’d achieved so much. He’d travelled all over and made friends all around the world. He really lived life to the full.”

Michael was born on August 6, 1993, and had two older brothers, Tom and Sam, and a twin brother, Matthew.

He attended St Antony’s RC Primary School, in Shadsworth Road, before going on to attend Our Lady and St John’s RC Art College in North Road.

The family remember Michael’s childhood as an active one with family camping trips to the south of England encouraging his love for sport and outdoor adventure.

It was an interest that he shared with his brothers and father, who had been a keen ice climber in his youth.

Described as a bright and intelligent child, Michael left school with nine GCSE and went on to study at St Mary’s College but found that academia did not nurture his naturally adventurous nature.

Tony said: “He was a clever lad but he just wanted to be out there living.

“He was always dying to travel and experience new things and he always loved surfing, biking, swimming - any outdoor extreme sport.

“He told us he was going to go to Newquay because he’d always loved it down there and wanted to be close to where he could surf.

“I remember saying to him, it’s a recession, I’m not sure if you’ll get a job straight away, but he saved up, didn’t ask for a penny from us, and went down there with a handful of CVs and had two or three jobs by the end of the week.

“He just knew what he wanted and could do anything.”

For the past three years, he spent his time between Newquay and Cornwall, working in hotels and surfing as often as he could, and the French alps, where he would snowboard inbetween working as a manager at La Farandole hotel.

He and a friend also spent three months travelling in India together.

Michael’s eldest brother, Tom, who serves in the Royal Navy, said: “He was a great brother and looked after my daughter while I was away with the navy.

“He had friends all over the country, all over the world, really. He travelled around so much and everyone liked him.”

Tom, 25, had been offered a job doing winter sports during the 2014 season but has declined the offer in light of Michael’s accident.

Tom added: “It won’t put us off those kinds of sports forever because we knew Michael and we knew what he was like.

“Snowboarding and surfing were his passion and he would be upset to think that any of us had given up an opportunity because of what happened to him. He’d never want that to happen.”

Tracey said: “It is truly devastating. But if there’s anything to take away from this, it’s to live like Michael did. He would grasp every opportunity there was and make the best of it and he had an amazing life because of that.

“That’s what I would like to pass on to other people. Don’t put off until tomorrow what you want to do today. Just do what you love and don’t hold back. Mikey never did.”

Comments (10)

Please log in to enable comment sorting

4:14pm Tue 4 Mar 14

anniehargs says...

Your son sounds like the sort of boy I want my sons to grow up to be like. Smile and be very, very, proud xxxxx
Your son sounds like the sort of boy I want my sons to grow up to be like. Smile and be very, very, proud xxxxx anniehargs
  • Score: 46

4:39pm Tue 4 Mar 14

hb200194 says...

We all miss you Mikey. I have so many happy memories of you from school and college. You were always smiling and your happiness touched everybody around you. I hope you're surfing the waves in heaven. Love you always. X
We all miss you Mikey. I have so many happy memories of you from school and college. You were always smiling and your happiness touched everybody around you. I hope you're surfing the waves in heaven. Love you always. X hb200194
  • Score: 22

8:05pm Tue 4 Mar 14

billy32 says...

Sounds like he enjoyed life to the full, i wish you all the best and even though i didn't know the young man i am sure you are very proud off him.
Sounds like he enjoyed life to the full, i wish you all the best and even though i didn't know the young man i am sure you are very proud off him. billy32
  • Score: 18

8:14pm Tue 4 Mar 14

WSLancs says...

I knew his twin and they were two of the nicest people I knew, he was adventurous and lived his life some of us dream to. My thoughts are with his family and friends may they take comfort in knowing he will always be loved and missed by the many lives he touched. A young life taken too soon, much love.
I knew his twin and they were two of the nicest people I knew, he was adventurous and lived his life some of us dream to. My thoughts are with his family and friends may they take comfort in knowing he will always be loved and missed by the many lives he touched. A young life taken too soon, much love. WSLancs
  • Score: 13

10:56pm Tue 4 Mar 14

elsie-mary says...

he only takes the best ones and your son most definately sounds special x god bless xxx
he only takes the best ones and your son most definately sounds special x god bless xxx elsie-mary
  • Score: 12

9:56am Wed 5 Mar 14

BRFC195 says...

May ur sons legacy live on sounds such an inspiration and hope your sons legacy inspires all young people of lancashire to live life to the full and follow there dreams ,thoughts with the family and how proud you must be xxx
May ur sons legacy live on sounds such an inspiration and hope your sons legacy inspires all young people of lancashire to live life to the full and follow there dreams ,thoughts with the family and how proud you must be xxx BRFC195
  • Score: 9

1:38pm Wed 5 Mar 14

Ian Southward says...

Sincere sympathy from Ian and Alison who worked with Tracey in Preston, We knew how proud you were of him. Our thoughts are with you at this time
Sincere sympathy from Ian and Alison who worked with Tracey in Preston, We knew how proud you were of him. Our thoughts are with you at this time Ian Southward
  • Score: 2

9:39pm Wed 5 Mar 14

mys says...

Aww what a sad story,he sounds like a lovely lad bless him and a loving family who adored him so much, rip young man your parents/friends/fami
ly and all who knew will keep the memories of you alive xx
Aww what a sad story,he sounds like a lovely lad bless him and a loving family who adored him so much, rip young man your parents/friends/fami ly and all who knew will keep the memories of you alive xx mys
  • Score: 0

1:00pm Thu 6 Mar 14

kessuki says...

A lovely lad from what ive read. Sad that he was taken too soon. He lived life the way it should be lived. Thinking of the family. X
A lovely lad from what ive read. Sad that he was taken too soon. He lived life the way it should be lived. Thinking of the family. X kessuki
  • Score: 1

2:18pm Fri 7 Mar 14

Dizzycazi says...

Miss you loads Mike. Will be sad to say my goodbyes at the funeral.

Such an amazing lad xxxxxxxxx
Miss you loads Mike. Will be sad to say my goodbyes at the funeral. Such an amazing lad xxxxxxxxx Dizzycazi
  • Score: 0

Comments are closed on this article.

click2find

About cookies

We want you to enjoy your visit to our website. That's why we use cookies to enhance your experience. By staying on our website you agree to our use of cookies. Find out more about the cookies we use.

I agree