Published on Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Coach driver charged with manslaughter

A British coach driver who crashed while bringing a group of school children home from a ski holiday in Italy has been charged with involuntary manslaughter and involuntarily causing injury.

The driver, Derek Thompson, 47, is suspected of falling asleep at the wheel as he drove the pupils from Alvechurch School in Worcestershire home from a holiday organised by school trip specialist Interski (see previous story)

Teacher Peter Rippington, 59, died when the coach veered off the motorway down an embankment and several children and adults were injured. Seven people remain in hospital, including a 13-year-old girl who is believed to have had surgery in Paris.

Thompson has been released and allowed to return to the UK on condition he will return to France to appear before a French court at a later day. Police said there was no evidence of him speeding or having worked excessive hours before the crash.

A statement on Interski’s website said: "We observe the strictest adherence to all legal, professional and operational requirements. Drivers’ duty hours are rigorously controlled and verified by tachograph readings. The current regime is applied by European legislation. Our compliance is total."

By Diane Evans and Linsey McNeill

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