I may have fallen asleep, says driver in coach crash driver
Briton is formally accused of manslaughter over ski trip accident that killed a teacher and left 11 injured
Tuesday 21 February 2012
The driver of the British coach that crashed while carrying
schoolchildren home from an Italian ski trip has admitted to French
investigators that he may have dozed off at the wheel.
Derek Thompson, 47, was formally accused of manslaughter – one step short of a charge – when he appeared before an investigating magistrate in a private hearing at Châlons-en-Champagne in northern France last night. He was allowed to return to Britain on certain conditions.
The coach careered off the motorway into a broad, 10ft-deep ditch in the early hours of Sunday, killing a 59-year-old teacher and injuring 11 people, six seriously. A 13-year-old girl, named only as Suzie, was still in a children's hospital in Paris last night but her life was no longer in danger.
The public prosecutor, Christian de Rocquigny, said last night that the driver had no recollection of the accident. "Witnesses who were driving nearby saw the vehicle veering constantly towards the ditch," Mr de Rocquigny said. "The tachograph [a device that records speed and driver behaviour] reveals unexplained variations in speed in the nine minutes before the crash. The driver at first denied falling asleep under questioning but then admitted that it is possible that he dozed off."
Tributes were paid yesterday to Peter Rippington, the maths teacher from Alvechurch Church of England Middle School in Worcestershire, who died in the crash. Bryan Maybee, chairman of the school governors, read a statement outside the school gates yesterday, saying that Mr Rippington – known affectionately as Mr Ripp – was a "dedicated and inspirational teacher" who would be "sadly missed by all those who knew him".
The coach carrying 29 children and 18 adults veered off the A26 motorway near Reims at about 2.45am local time on Sunday. The school party was returning to the West Midlands from a half-term ski break at Pila, in the Val d'Aosta in northern Italy. The vehicle tumbled down a three-metre embankment into a broad drainage ditch and turned on its side.
French investigators said yesterday that all the adults and children on the coach were wearing seat belts. Otherwise, they said, the injury or death toll could have been much higher.
Mr Thompson appeared before an investigating magistrate last night and was formally accused of "manslaughter" and "involuntarily causing bodily harm". The magistrate will now gather the evidence for and against the accused and decide whether he should be tried.
The driver was given permission to return to Britain on condition that he makes no attempt to contact those connected with the crash and that he does not drive in France while the inquiry is in progress.
Swedish stars ask fans for £195 pledges on crowd-funding website
sportNapoli 2 Arsenal 0: Gunners must now face either Real Madrid, PSG, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid or Barcelona in knock-out stages
musicAs Mariah Carey and Noddy Holder rake in the royalties from their classics, why there hasn't been a decent festive hit for 20 years?
theatreAuthor Daniel Rosenthal recalls the mishaps that almost brought the curtain down on the likes of John Gielgud and Diana Rigg
lifeFull of the joys and want to help your fellow man? December isn't the time to do it
lifeAs the Royal Mail plans to phase out deliveries on two wheels, it's no wonder posties are in a spin
techLuke Blackall reports on precision engineered prams and babygros that monitor your child 24-7
The ten coldest places on Earth
Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute
David Cameron explains selfie with Obama and Helle Thorning-Schmidt at Mandela Memorial
Krokodil in Mexico? Teenager hospitalised after 'injecting drug into her genitals'
Australia incest case: Filthy and severely deformed children found in remote farming community after generations of inbreeding
- 1 Nelson Mandela memorial: ‘Bogus’ interpreter made mockery of Barack Obama’s tribute
- 2 It’s shameful that our universities have accepted gender segregation under pressure from the most oppressive religious fanatics
- 3 Kenyan politician Mike Sonko left red-faced after photoshopping himself next to Nelson Mandela
- 4 Exeter to Edinburgh and back in a day: How one fresher's lost bet left him facing a 900-mile round trip
- 5 Selfie at funeral: Cameron squeezes in on Obama snap at Mandela memorial
- < Previous
- Next >
£35000 - £38000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Developer (Win...
£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Senior QA Engineer Tes...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading prov...
£70000 - £90000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading mark...