Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

Son reunited with crash family

Max, seen here with sister Amy, has spoken of his happiness at being reunited with his mother and sister
Sharon Rippington was injured and her husband Peter killed in a coach crash in France (FCO/PA)
The bus flipped over and plunged to the bottom of a motorway embankment on Sunday night (AP)

The son of a teacher who was killed in a coach crash in northern France has spoken of his happiness at being reunited with his mother and sister, who survived the accident.

Max Rippington said he was "delighted" to be reunited with his mother, Sharon, and sister, Amy, following the coach crash in which his father, Peter, was killed.

In a statement he said: "Sharon, who suffered multiple injuries to her face and back, is recovering in hospital and is able to talk to family and friends. Amy is also with her in hospital and is being treated for bruising and severely aching muscles.

"They all, Sharon, Amy, Max and family wanted to express deep thanks to all for the very kind tributes and support being given. It has given them all enormous strength, comfort and pride. As previously stated, the family would like to request privacy and time to grieve with their family and friends."

Peter Rippington, 59, died when the bus he was travelling in with a group of schoolchildren on their way home from a ski trip flipped over and plunged to the bottom of a motorway embankment in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France on Sunday.

The driver of the coach, named in reports as Derek Thompson, 47, said he has "no recollection" of the accident, prosecutors revealed.

He is being investigated for involuntary homicide and involuntary wounding after the accident, which involved 29 pupils from Alvechurch Middle School in Alvechurch, Worcestershire.

In a statement released after a court hearing in Chalons-en-Champagne, prosecutor Christian de Rocquigny said: "In his presentation before a judge late Monday afternoon, the driver explained that he had no recollection of the circumstances of the accident. While in custody, after denying falling asleep, the driver acknowledged that it was possible that he was drowsy."

Initial tests had shown Mr Thompson was not under the influence of alcohol or drugs, and local police were said to be investigating whether he might have fallen asleep at the wheel.

In an earlier statement, Mr de Rocquigny said: "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 judge said. The 47-year-old has been allowed to return to the UK, with certain conditions attached, the prosecutor said.

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