Double coach crash in France leaves Oxbridge skiers needing medical attention

Lucky escape for dozens of students despite side-on collision

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The Independent Online

Two coaches carrying Oxford and Cambridge students on the annual Varsity ski trip in Tignes have crashed, leaving windows shattered and passengers with minor injuries.  

The accident took place north of Dijon in the early hours of last Saturday, when the first coach skidded on black ice and collided with a road barrier. The second coach then swerved behind the first, crashing at a right angle. It is understood that no students were seriously injured in the collision.

One student at Christ Church College Oxford, who asked not be named, was a passenger on the second coach. He told The Independent: “We saw the coach ahead of us swerve and then collide with a road barrier. I could then see our coach careering towards it, but the bus driver also swerved and we ended up sliding parallel to the coach ahead, crashing side on and breaking some of the window panels.”

“I don’t think anyone was seriously injured,” he added, “I think someone broke their nose and another banged their head severely but that was it. The bus driver did a good job of steering our coach away from theirs, because it looked like we were going to crash head on at first.” 

The students were returning home at the end of the ski trip when the crash occurred and it is understood that passengers on the second coach were able to continue on their journey, while those on the first had to wait several hours on the roadside for help.

Tom Rimmer, also at Oxford, was travelling behind the coaches. He told campus newspaper The Oxford Student:  “We didn’t really know what was happening at first. We were really worried because we had waited for such a long time without information. When I heard that my friends were all right I was very relieved.

Pete Calvert, the Varsity trip's organiser, said: “As a result of extremely icy conditions, two of the coaches taking participants back to the UK were involved in a collision last night in north France; however they did not come into contact with each other. There were no serious injuries, but there are reports of one broken nose. One of the coaches had only superficial damage and was allowed to continue its journey by French police.”

“The conditions have meant that the French police closed the road for a number of hours while gritters were used to make the road safe. Passengers on the damaged coach were taken to the next services by minibus, and are being collected by our other coaches with empty seats as they go past,” he added.

It is not the first time a coach has crashed during the annual trip, in which students meet for a long weekend of skiing and partying. During the 2010 Varsity trip, a coach driver had to be cut of the wreckage of his vehicle after colliding with a lorry on the M25.