French magistrate charges driver of crashed coach with manslaughter

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The Independent Online

The driver of the coach that crashed in central France, killing a British teenager and seriously injuring four others, was charged with manslaughter yesterday.

The driver of the coach that crashed in central France, killing a British teenager and seriously injuring four others, was charged with manslaughter yesterday.

Alan MacDonald appeared before an examining magistrate in the Palais de Justice in Bourges and was charged with manslaughter, involuntary wounding and loss of control of a vehicle.

Police spent all day interviewing Mr MacDonald, who worked for the Dunfermline-based company Rennies, and who had been driving abroad for the first time. They were investigating the possibility that Mr MacDonald, from Kelty in Fife, fell asleep at the wheel of the bus, which was carrying 48 people when it left the road on Monday. A spokesman for Rennies said the firm's deputy general manager was going to France to see Mr MacDonald.

Earlier in the day more passengers returned home from France. Choking back tears, Alan Meikle, the leader of the Boys' Brigade company that lost one of its members, said the group was shattered both physically and mentally and everyone just wanted to be with their loved ones.

The coach party also included a group of children from Chadwell Heath Foundation School in Romford, east London, four of whom are still in hospital and it is believed that one of them may be left permanently injured.

Ross Buckmaster, 15, suffered serious neck and spine injuries. Yesterday he was transferred to a specialist hospital and his parents travelled to France to be with him.

Keith Wilkinson, his headmaster, said they were initially told that Ross's injuries were not too serious. "But it later became clear that he had also injured his spine and it was more serious but I don't know the extent of his injuries at this time."

He said that two other boys who received cuts to the head in the accident were expected to leave hospital and return home yesterday. Another girl who had glass cuts in her cheek and eyes will probably be released today .

Mr Meikle, 23, said the group's thoughts were with the family of Craig Norsworthy, who died in the accident.

"This has been a very traumatic time for everyone. This is a time when we just need to be with our loved ones. Firstly our thoughts are with Mr and Mrs Norsworthy and all the friends of Craig. We are without a friend but we will take steps to remember Craig in an appropriate way. He was a valued member of the company. It was a pleasure to play a small part in his short life." The Rev William Brown, the locum Church of Scotland minister for Duddinstone, where Craig lived, paid tribute to him yesterday and said that a memorial service would be held in due course. Mr Brown said: "He was a lovely, lively boy who loved football and swimming and was waiting for his Standard Grade results.

"As his mother said, he has had a cheeky smile ever since he was a young boy."

Twenty boys and four adults from the Edinburgh group returned to Scotland yesterday while two adults remained in France - Captain George Sim, who is still in hospital, and Craig Paul, who stayed behind to offer him support.

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