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Tragedy Strikes Alvechurch School


Alvechurch School coach crash: Driver due in French court

The coach involved in the crashThe accident occurred on the A26 motorway near Chalons-en-Champagne

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The driver of a coach carrying a Worcestershire school party that crashed in northern France, killing a teacher, is due before a French court.
Derek Thompson, 47, was behind the wheel of the vehicle when it went down an embankment on the A26 motorway.
He is being held by police in Chalons-en-Champagne.
Peter Rippington, 59, who taught at Alvechurch School, died and more than 20 people were hurt in Sunday's crash. Eleven remain in hospital.
According to French prosecutor Christian de Rocquigny, six of those are thought to be seriously injured, including a 13-year-old girl who underwent surgery in Paris.
'Formal investigation'
Police in France have confirmed Mr Thompson, who suffered minor injuries, tested negative for both drugs and alcohol. There was also no evidence of him having worked excess hours or was speeding at the time of the incident.
Investigators are considering whether he fell asleep or became ill at the wheel.
The BBC's Hugh Schofield said Mr Thompson is expected to be placed under "formal investigation for involuntarily causing death and injury", in the next few days.
Peter Rippington, who was killed in the coach crash, and his wife, SharonPeter Rippington died in the crash and his wife, Sharon, was also hurt
The school party had been on a skiing trip to Val d'Aosta in Italy, organised by travel company Interski.
The Mansfield-based firm said the crash happened at about 02:30 GMT, near the city of Reims, as the party made its way home aboard two coaches.
The Foreign Office said it was working closely with French authorities and was also assisting the passengers involved and their relatives.
There had been 20 adults - including two drivers and six ski instructors - and 29 schoolchildren on board, the company added.
The vehicle involved was owned by Solus Coaches, which is based in Tamworth, Staffordshire. A spokesman for the coach company said it was "saddened" to hear of the crash and offered its "sincere condolences" to the family and friends of Mr Rippington.
Most of the children have now arrived back in Worcestershire.
Tributes have been paid to Mr Rippington, whose wife Sharon and daughter Amy were also injured in the crash, at the Church of England middle school, which opened as usual following the half-term break.
'Inspirational teacher'
Speaking outside the school Bryan Maybee, chair of governors, offered his condolences to those "affected by this tragic accident".
He said: "[Peter Rippington was] a dedicated and inspirational teacher.
"We continue to wish for the swift recovery and safe return of those currently being treated for injuries abroad.
Mr Maybee was joined by the Reverend David Martin, rector of Alvechurch, who said Mr Rippington "was so much part of this community" and that he had given "his whole life to Alvechurch Church of England Middle School".
West Mercia Police said it was supporting the families of the children and members of the staff involved and family liaison officers had been put in place at the school.

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