Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

School Ski Trip Coach Crash Driver Faces Manslaughter Charge

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

School Ski Trip Coach Crash Driver Faces Manslaughter Charge

Article excerpt

Byline: Benedict Moore-Bridger and Peter Allen in Paris

THE British driver of a coach which crashed in France, killing a teacher and leaving a girl in a coma, was today facing a manslaughter charge.

The 47-year-old driver, who has not been named, is suspected of falling asleep at the wheel and also of "involuntarily causing injuries" as he drove a party of 29 children home from a skiing holiday.

As tributes were made to maths teacher Peter Rippington, 59, who died, the parents of 13-year-old victim Suzie Warner were keeping a vigil at her bedside.

The group was returning from a half-term trip to Italy's popular Valle d'Aosta region on two coaches owned by Solus Coaches, based in Tamworth, Staffordshire.

The coach carrying female pupils from Alvechurch Middle School in Worcestershire swerved and hit a crash barrier before rolling into a ditch at 3am yesterday. Suzie is one of 11 still in hospital following the accident. Six are seriously injured.

As her parents flew to her side at the Necker children's hospital in Paris, her brother Joseph-Stanley Warner urged people to pray for her and revealed that she is undergoing emergency surgery, tweeting: "Please can everyone #PrayForSuzie my sister who is in a coma in a Paris hospital after the coach her school trip was on crashed last night."

A spokesman for the hospital said she was in a "stable" condition, although she is understood to have severe spinal injuries. Meanwhile, initial tests on the coach driver, who received minor injuries, showed that he was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs. He was appearing before an examining judge at Chalons-en-Champagne court between 3pm and 4pm today.

Prosecutors have ordered an investigation of the coach's tachograph to see if he had complied with EU driving hour regulations.

A number of teachers and male pupils, aged 12 and 13, returned yesterday, while police were on duty today at all three entrances as children arrived. …

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