THE heartbroken father of a young skier killed in an accident believes better safety measures might have saved him.

Former Taunton School student Aleksander Owens-Thurston, 23, died in the high-speed crash in the Austrian resort of Kaprun during a family holiday.

His father said his death had left "a huge hole" but he hopes lessons can be learned.

Phillip Owens-Thurston said: "We’re still stunned.

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

"He lived life to the full and it’s a tragedy that he’s been taken from us.

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

"He was such a wonderful young man and will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him."

Experienced skier Aleksander, who worked in IT in Reading, crashed into a metal girder supporting a snow cannon after losing his footing on a steep route near St Anton.

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

His father 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.

"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."

He was holidaying with his dad, mum Kasia and 21-year-old brother Richard.

His father said: "We go skiing every year and we’ve 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.”

Aleksander, who died on February 24, will be laid to rest at Taunton School Chapel at 3pm on Friday, March 14.

Taunton School headmaster Dr John Newton said: “Aleksander was a delightful young man. He had a courtesy and set of values that made him stand out.

“He also had a huge appetite for life and packed a lot into his tragically few years. He loved Taunton School dearly, and we remember him with affection.”