Ten In Hospital After UK Teacher Dies In Crash In France

Ten people remain in hospital after a coach carrying a Worcestershire school party back from a skiing trip crashed in northern France, killing a teacher.

The coach overturned and went down an embankment on the A26 in northern FranceTen people remain in hospital after a coach carrying a Worcestershire school party back from a skiing trip crashed in northern France, killing a teacher.

Peter Rippington, 59, who taught at Alvechurch School, died and more than 20 people were hurt in the crash near Chalons-en-Champagne early on Sunday.

Among those injured was a girl aged 12 or 13 who was airlifted to a hospital in Paris in a critical condition.

Police are investigating whether the coach driver fell asleep at the wheel.

The BBC's Hugh Schofield said the driver, who suffered minor injuries, tested negative for alcohol and drugs and the coach's electronic log book, which recorded the number of hours driven, showed nothing unusual.

'Extremely concerned'

The driver is being held by police in Chalons-en-Champagne and is expected to be placed under formal investigation for involuntarily causing death and injury in the next few days, he added.

The school party had been on a skiing trip to Val d'Aosta in Italy and was returning when the coach went down an embankment on the A26 motorway.

Relatives of Mr Rippington said they were "devastated" by his death and "extremely concerned" for his wife Sharon who is also in hospital.

The couple's daughter, Amy, suffered minor injuries in the crash.

Travel company Interski, which organised the trip, said the crash happened at about 02:30 GMT (03:30 local time) near the city of Reims.

There had been two coaches in the party and most of the children have now arrived back in Worcestershire.

There had been 20 adults - including two drivers and six ski instructors - and 29 schoolchildren on board, the Mansfield-based firm 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 those who had been bereaved.

Alvechurch is a Church of England middle school, with pupils' ages ranging from nine to 13.

Several people came to the school to lay flowers and pay tributes to the teacher.

Kimberley Thornton, 23, from Redditch, said Mr Rippington had been her form tutor, describing him as "absolutely amazing".

"He was one of the only teachers I remember from the school. He was just a really different kind of person, I could talk to him," she said.

The Foreign Office said it was working closely with French authorities and was also assisting the passengers involved and their relatives.

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.

People in the UK who are worried about relatives and friends should call the Foreign Office's helpline on 0207 008 1500.