Victims of school ski crash still struggling a year on

By Ian Dipple Tuesday 19 February 2013 Updated: 20/02 11:08

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THE VICTIMS of the French coach crash which claimed the life of a popular Alvechurch teacher say they are still suffering from the physical and psychological injuries one year later.

It was 12 months ago today (February 19) the coach, carrying pupils and teachers from Alvechurch Middle School returning from a skiing trip to Italy, came off the road near Chalons-en-Champagne. Maths and Games teacher Peter Rippington was killed while others were were left with multiple injuries, including spinal and limb fractures, lacerations, dental injuries and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

A year on and some of them are still struggling to rebuild their lives and get over the psychological trauma caused by the fatal incident.

Among them is Freya Smith Carrington, 12, who still relies on crutches to get around after suffering an open fracture to her thigh, which meant the bone was broken and punctured through her skin.

Her mum Toni said: "The last year has been a rollercoaster of emotions and the one year anniversary is particularly poignant. Freya is still in pain every day and has a long way to go with her recovery that we hope will be helped with intensive rehabilitation and ongoing treatment.

"The psychological impact is also an ongoing battle and the 19 February will forever be a date that is filled with thoughts of what Freya went through on the coach in France."

Coach driver Derek Thompson has been charged by the French authorities with involuntary manslaughter and is due to undergo trial in France later this year.

But Clive Garner, from law firm Irwin Mitchell which is representing the 21 children, two teachers and two ski instructors injured in the crash, said they remained concerned no detailed information about what caused the crash had been released.

"What should have been a safe trip home after a skiing holiday abroad has ended up being a nightmare for those involved and their families. It has been a year since the crash but many are still suffering from serious injuries and face a long battle to get their lives back on track and to come to terms with any permanent injuries," he said.

"We will ensure that each of our clients receives justice and the full and fair financial settlements they need so that they can start to re-build their lives, knowing they will have financial security and access to the treatment, rehabilitation, therapies and other support they require both now and in the future.

"I am concerned that while the driver of the coach has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, we and the families we represent still do not know the exact cause of the accident. It is crucial that we find out why this coach left the road and that lessons are learnt to reduce the risk of a similar tragedy occurring in the future."

The families are suing trip organiser Interschool Travel Limited, trading as Interski, for damages for their pain and suffering, past and future financial losses and expenses, as well as the cost of specialist rehabilitation, therapies and ongoing support they need.

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