59 year old Teacher Peter Rippington died in the coach crash

 Salvage ... a member of the rescue team works next to the damaged bus at the bottom of a roadside embankment

Pictures of Alvechurch Middle School can be found on the link below.

http://maps.google.com/maps/ms? ie=UTF8&source=embed&oe=UTF8&msa=0&msid=110706387008362365053.000464fe01153d4de331d

A coach carrying 29 schoolchildren crashed in northern France, leaving one adult male dead and five others seriously injured, according to the ski company that organised the trip.

The pupils, from Alvechurch School in Worcestershire, were returning to the UK from the Aosta Valley, Italy, when the coach left the motorway and came to rest at the bottom of an embankment.

Twenty-one adults were also involved in the bus crash near the city of Reims in the Champagne-Ardenne region in the early hours of this morning, Interski Snowsport School said.

The ski company said 22 people were also taken to hospital with minor injuries following the accident at 2.30am.

No details of what is thought to have caused the crash were given, but it said the coach had two drivers on board, along with six Interski instructors and 13 adults belonging to the school party.

Those who escaped uninjured are being cared for at a sports complex in the region. They are receiving attention from the French Red Cross, who are also providing psychological support.

The Foreign Office (FCO) said it is providing consular assistance to those affected and has set up a helpline to call on 0207 008 1500.

The accident happened on the A26 at Chalons-en-Champagne. Images of the coach on its side and without its front window were shown on news channels.

The bus was owned by Solus Coaches, which is based in Tamworth, Staffordshire.

A spokeswoman for Alvechurch School said: “There is no further information at this stage. We are liaising with the police and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.”

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said in a statement on it’s website

In the early hours of 19 February, a coach returning to the Birmingham area crashed near Reims, France. People worried about relatives or friends should call the Foreign Office on 0207 008 1500.
A coach returning to the Birmingham area has crashed near Reims, France in the early hours of Sunday 19 February. We are urgently investigating the incident. One of our consular teams have been dispatched to the scene to provide assistance to those affected. People in the UK who are worried about relatives and friends should call the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Helpline on +44 (0) 207 008 1500.

Statement sent on behalf of the Rippington family, following the coach crash this morning in France

Peter Rippington and his wife Sharon

“We ask that our privacy is respected and that we are left to grieve with our friends and family.”

“We, as a family, are devastated at the tragic loss of Peter, a wonderful husband, father, son, brother, son-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle, friend and teacher.

“We are still extremely concerned about the health of his wife, Sharon, who was injured and is still recovering in hospital in France. Sharon is accompanied by her daughter Amy, who escaped the incident with minor injuries.

“Until they are safely home we ask that our privacy is respected and that we are left to grieve with our friends and family.”

Police And County Council Joint Statement On France Coach Crash

West Mercia Police and Worcestershire County Council can confirm they are working in partnership to support the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in response to the coach crash that occurred in France today.

A coach returning home with a party from Alvechurch CE Middle School, Worcestershire, crashed near Reims early this morning. Foreign and Commonwealth Office Consular officers have been dispatched to the scene to provide assistance to those affected.

Meanwhile, West Mercia Police is working locally with Worcestershire County Council and the school’s management team to support the families affected by the collision.

Superintendent Steve Cullen said: “This is a very sad incident and I want to express our sympathy to all those affected by the crash.

“I also want to reassure local people that we are doing all we can to help and support the families of the children and members of staff involved. Specially trained family liaison officers have been put in place at the school and a dedicated support team of experienced officers are liaising with the FCO.

“Local policing officers from the Alvechurch area are also on the ground and supporting the school and local residents in any way they can.”

Cllr Liz Eyre, Lead Member for Children’s Services said: “We are shocked and saddened about the accident early this morning.  Our thoughts are with those involved and their families.

“The County Council’s Crisis Support team are working closely with the school to provide support and advice to the parents, carers and of course the passengers returning back from the school trip.”

  • People in the UK worried about friends or loved ones should call the FCO on 0207 008 1500.
  • The school is planning to open tomorrow (Monday 20th), where teachers and specially trained staff will continue to provide support to those affected.
  • Further information can be found on the FCO website:

http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/news/latest-news/?view=News&id=732058882

and Interski website: http://www.interski.co.uk/Information/

UPDATE- COACH DRIVER ARRESTED AND RESCUE COACH ARRIVES IN ALVECHURCH WORCESTERSHIRE

A coach driver was arrested in France yesterday after a coach carrying schoolchildren returning to Worcestershire from a half-term skiing trip careered off a motorway, killing a teacher and injuring 23 others.

The coach, carrying 29 pupils and 18 adults from a middle school in Alvechurch, Worcestershire, crashed though a barrier and overturned down a small embankment on the motorway near Reims in northern France early yesterday. No other vehicles were involved.

The teacher was named as Peter Rippington, 59. The ski trip was to have been his last before he retired. His wife, Sharon, was also seriously injured in the crash while their daughter, Amy, escaped with minor injuries. A 13-year-old girl was in critical condition.

The coach driver was treated in hospital for minor injuries and then arrested by police yesterday afternoon as they investigated what caused the coach to leave the road at about 3am in good driving conditions.

The injured 13-year-old girl was flown to Paris for an emergency operation. Four others, including three children, were also seriously injured. The remainder escaped with cuts and bruises.

The schoolchildren had been on a skiiing trip in Italy’s Aosta Valley.

The tour operators, Interski, said those who had not been badly injured were being cared for at a sports complex by the French Red Cross.

Rescue coach arrives in Alvechurch Worcestershire early this morning (Monday)

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