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French court hears about death of British schoolchild
Tuesday October 6, 2015 - Email this article to a friend

14-year old Kieran Brookes died in a chairlift accident in Chatel in 2011. The lift company and attendent have been in court charged with involuntary manslaughter. UPDATED

Kieran Brookes was on a school trip when his clothing became caught as he left the lift. 

He was left dangling from the lift with the straps of his rucksack and clothing caught around his neck, blocking off his airway.

He was first treated in hospital in Annecy, France, and then transferred to hospital in Exeter where he died a month later.

We reported on the accident at the time here on PlanetSKI.

50-year old Richard Cettour, who was supervising the lift at the time, and the operator, SAEM Sports et Tourisme à Chatel, faced a series of health and safety breaches as well as a charge of involuntary manslaughter.

The court case was held on Tuesday in Thonon-Les-Bains.

Richard Cettour told the court he was cleaning tools when a woman came in panicking and shouting in English.  He told the court that he did not understand what she was saying.

He went outside and hit the stop button.

The company told the court there was not proof Kieran got on the lift with his rucksack on. A local rule prevents people wearing a rucksack while travelling on chairlifts in the resort.

He was suspended from the lift for around 4 minutes.

The prosecutor has demanded a one-year suspended jail sentence against Mr Cettour and fine of £50,000 against the lift company.

A lawyer for the Brookes family issued a statement after the court case.

"This tragic case must serve as a wake-up call to all ski resorts to do everything within their power to ensure the highest safety standards and ensure that failings identified in Kieran's death are never repeated. Short-cuts and failings can cost lives," said the statement.

A judgement will be handed down on 17th November.

The parents of Kieran, Nick and Cindy Brookes, were in court in France.

The case will be watched closely by other lift operating companies and their staff.

People are recommended to remove rucksacks and place them on their lap when taking a chairlift.

Some lifts have a sign to this effect and in some cases lift operators ask people to remove backpacks.

The lift itself was two years old at the time of the accident and had carried over three quarters of a million people without major incident.

Investigators from the regional chairlift bureau in Bonneville visited the scene of the accident shortly after the tragedy.

A special memorial service was held for Kieran at Exeter Cathedral in the summer of 2011.

He studied at Torquay Boys' Grammar School.

For the spirit of the mountains

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