Skip to main content

From the Scottish Sunday Express

A BRITISH coach driver appeared in court in France last night and admitted he may have fallen asleep at the wheel of his vehicle before the crash which killed a teacher and left a schoolgirl in a coma.
Derek Thompson, 47, was charged with manslaughter after the horrific motorway crash in northern France as he drove a party of school­children home from a skiing holiday.
It came after Mr Thompson appeared before an examining judge in the Palais de Justice in the ­eastern town of Chalons-en-­Champagne.
Last night Mr Thompson – who is believed to live with his girlfriend near Tamworth, Staffs – was released on bail pending further inquiries.
Christian de Rocquigny, the Chalons prosecutor, confirmed Mr Thompson had been formally charged with “manslaughter and involuntary causing injuries”.
The hearing was held behind-closed-doors but Mr de Rocquigny said outside court: “While being questioned the driver, having denied falling asleep, has acknowledged that it was possible that he did so.
The majority of the 49 British nationals who were on the coach are back in the UK
Foreign Office spokesman
“Witnesses who were driving in the area near the coach saw the vehicle repeatedly swerve towards the verge. The tachograph indicates some unexplained variations in speed in the nine minutes before the accident,
“The charges both effectively related to the carelessness of the driver causing injury.”
Mr de Rocquigny said Mr Thompson had been treated for minor injuries. He said that the driver would be free to return to the UK, so long as he did not interfere with witnesses, and returned for a trial, which is likely to be held later this year.
The prosecutor said it had been raining heavily at the time of the accident.
The coach was seen swerving slowly to the right and into a crash barrier before flipping over and ending up in a ditch.
Police said Mr Thompson tested negative for drugs and alcohol.
The coach’s tachograph had not revealed the driver had broken EU regulations for the number of hours which he can spend at the wheel. Mr Thompson was driving a party of Worcestershire school pupils home from a half-term ­holiday in the Italian resort of Val d’Aosta.
He was arrested shortly after the accident in the early hours of Sunday morning on the A26 motorway 90 miles east of Paris.
Popular teacher Peter Rippington, 59, died and 27 people were hurt.
Last night the devastated parents of Suzie Warner, 13, were keeping a bedside vigil at a hospital in Paris after she fell into a coma. She was said to be “stable” yesterday after undergoing emergency surgery.
Maths and PE teacher Mr Rippington had been in charge of a party from Alvechurch Church of England Middle School.
Mr Rippington’s wife Sharon and daughter Amy were also injured. Last night seven people remained in hospital in France, six serious.
The group of 29 pupils and 19 adults had been travelling to Calais from their annual half-term ski holiday in the resort.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “The majority of the 49 British nationals who were on the coach are back in the UK.”
Tragically, Mr Rippington had planned to retire in April after a 30-year career. The ski holiday was set to be his last major school trip.


Marilyn said…
So sad. Also, an unfortunate reminder to all of us about driving when sleep and thinking we can tough it out a while longer.
Marilyn said…
Ooops. "....driving when sleepY...."
Belinda said…
Marilyn, yes, I have been praying for the driver. Before I went to a sleep clinic and got treatment, I fought a perpetual state of drowsiness and often had to pull off somewhere and have a nap before driving on. That may have nothing to do with this man's drowsiness, but I certainly thank God that I never had an accident due to falling asleep at the wheel. It is just as bad as driving drunk.
Brave Raven said…
Poor man. One lapse of judgment and so many lives devastated, his own included. Prayers for them all.

Popular posts from this blog

Just Joy!

Our family has a standing date for Sunday dinner on the first Sunday of every month. Not that we don't see each other at any other time, but we all know that particular Sunday is pretty much for sure--and I look forward to it so much--the front door bursting open and our house being filled once more with the voices and vibrancy of six grandchildren and their parents. 

This week Spero, Brenda's new Australian Shepherd puppy came too, and met his extended family, leaving Molson at home to have a rest! He was duly adored by all of us.

He came with a dazzling array of toys and is proving a fast learner, already sitting on command and responding to Tori's training. I was so impressed at her technique of quickly rewarding a turnaround from any slight naughtiness with praise for "good sitting," or "good" any other desirable behaviour! 

Tippy had her hair cut stunningly and bravely short the day before; making a statement about who she is as a unique individual, o…

The Secret Adventures of Susan's Scottish Scarf

By Belinda (with a lot of help from Susan :))
I was saying goodnight to her at the front door this week when she told me. There was apparently more to the scarf around her neck than I knew. 
The scarf had been a gift from me for Susan's birthday on Tuesday December 18th. It had been her 60th; and that day I had treated her to lunch to celebrate. 
We met at a tiny restaurant, Port Soiree, in Schomberg,near her office. It was a restaurant neither of us had been to before and it turned out to be a gem, with artsy ambiance, amazing food, wonderful service and modest pricing. In other words, it was perfect!