Tributes pour in for teacher killed in crash

Driver arrested after coach carrying pupils from Worcestershire veers off French motorway

Tributes were paid yesterday to a teacher killed in a coach crash in northern France as he returned from an Italian ski trip with his pupils.

Peter Rippington, 59, a teacher at Alvechurch School in Alvechurch, Worcestershire, who was known fondly to pupils as "Mr Ripps", died in the crash near Reims. His wife, Sharon, was also seriously injured. Their daughter, Amy, escaped with minor injuries.

The British driver of the coach was arrested by French police after being treated in hosptal for minor injuries.

Mr Rippington's family said last night: "We, as a family, are devastated at the tragic loss of Peter, a wonderful husband, father, son, brother, son-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle, friend and teacher. We are still extremely concerned about the health of his wife, Sharon, who was injured and is still recovering in hospital in France. Sharon is accompanied by her daughter, Amy. Until they are safely home we ask that our privacy is respected and that we are left to grieve with our friends and family."

Pupils from the middle school, which takes children aged nine to 13, were travelling on two coaches.

French police said last night that a 13-year-old girl remained in critical condition but her life was no longer in danger after she was flown to the Necker children's hospital in Paris for an emergency operation. Five others, including three children, remained in hospital in Reims. Other passengers escaped with minor injuries.

Hereim Goode, whose son, Keiron, 12, was on the second coach, which was following closely behind the first, said of Mr Rippington: "Everybody loved him, he had been teaching in Alvechurch all his life. He was an outstanding teacher. It was to have been his last ski trip and everybody thought the world of him. Always smiling, always a joker. I have another son at Keele University and when I told him he was heartbroken, that's how loved he was."

A neighbour, Brenda Jarvis, said that Mr Rippington was a "lovely man", adding: "He was due to take early retirement this very summer; it would have been his last trip and now he's gone."

The accident happened near Châlons-en-Champagne at 3am as the school party returned from a skiing holiday in Aosta in the Italian Alps. Police said witnesses had spoken of the vehicle veering slowly to the right, before demolishing a safety barrier and coming to rest on its side in a large ditch.

They said the British driver from Solus Coaches, in Tamworth, Staffordshire, had tested negative for drink or drugs. The "most likely working theory" is that he fell asleep at the wheel, a French police spokesman said.

French investigators will examine the coach's tachograph, which records speeds and driving times, to check if any laws had been broken.

The British ambassador in Paris, Sir Peter Ricketts, and his deputy, Ajay Scharma, visited injured members of the school party in Reims yesterday afternoon. The Foreign Office minister, Alistair Burt, said: "We will continue to assist both those who were on the coach and their families and friends."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Alexis Sanchez celebrates scoring a second for Arsenal against Reading
Life and Style
An easy-peel potato; Dave Hax has come up with an ingenious method in food preparation
voicesDave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Japan's population is projected to fall dramatically in the next 50 years (Wikimedia)
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own