Church sued over Peruvian boys' deaths

The Free Church of Scotland is to be sued in South America after two Peruvian boys died in a car crash on a trip to the Highlands organised by the church.

Donald MacLeod, 82, who was driving the car, was killed along with the two boys when their vehicle crashed into a parked lorry near Inverness in July 2006.

Carlos Gonzales, 15, and Gianmarco Peschiera, 14, had been on a school trip organised by the Free Church of Scotland and Colegio San Andres in Lima, Peru.

A legal action has now been raised in the civil courts in Peru against the Free Church of Scotland, the Colegio San Andres and the former headmaster, Donald Macaulay.

The action is for civil damages on the grounds of negligence on the part of the school, the church and Mr MacAulay and has been brought by the parents of Gianmarco Peschiera.

A statement on the Free Church website said: "The case deals with the events surrounding the tragic deaths of two pupils of Colegio San Andres, Gianmarco Peschiera and Carlos Gonzales, on a school trip to Scotland on July 31 2006.

"Over these years, many in Scotland have been praying for the families affected, as well as the wider Colegio San Andres family.

"The school now asks the Church in Scotland for earnest and sustained prayer. As the case approaches, there is great tension and anxiety within the school, and the whole San Andres community would appreciate a sense of solidarity with the praying people of the Free Church of Scotland.

"Please pray for a just, swift and decisive resolution of this case. Pray for the two families affected; pray for Donnie Macaulay and his family; and pray for the teachers, parents and pupils of Colegio San Andres. Pray that God would be pleased to continue to bless the school into its second century of service."

Both boys had been staying with Mr MacLeod, a former rector at Fortrose Academy, just outside Inverness.

They had been making their way to North Kessock for a day trip to Lewis when the accident happened on the northbound carriageway of the A9 on July 31 2006.

They had been due to fly back to Peru on Monday August 7.

The case is due to begin in Lima on December 1 and Scottish witnesses are not expected to be called.

The Colegio San Andres was founded by the Free Church in 1917.