Teacher Faces Manslaughter Charges After 2 Students Die in French Avalanche Yesterday

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(video of the rescue effort in France yesterday)

Yesterday, a teacher lead 10 teenage students from St-Exupery school in Lyon, France into a closed area at Les Deux Alps ski resort in France.  They triggered an avalanche that killed 2 of the students as well as a Ukrainian skier who was not with them.  A 16-year-old girl died on the scene and a 14-year-old boy died in the hospital from injuries sustained in the avalanche.  Several other students were in the hospital in critical conditions yesterday.

Today, prosecutors have announced that that teacher has been charged with involuntary manslaughter.  The physical education teacher has not been taken into custody, because he is in critical conditions in a hospital near Grenoble, France.

“A judicial inquiry will say why the teacher who was himself injured took (the group) onto a piste which was not open.”

“How can you think of taking children, following periods of heavy snowfall, onto a piste which was closed?” – French Minister for Youth and Sports Patrick Kanner

image of the avalanche rescue.
image of the avalanche rescue.

The area where the avalanche occurred had been closed all season due to a lack of snow.  13″ of new snow had just fall on Les Deux Alps this week raising avalanche danger throughout the French Alps.  The run where the avalanche occurred is 7,000-feet and is rated black, France’s highest difficulty rating.

The avalanche danger at Les Deux Alps was rated a 3 out of 5 on Wednesday, the day of the avalanche.

The avalanche was described to be:

 “a typical case of a slab of snow formed by the heavy winds in recent days. Fresh snow did not attach enough.” – Dominique Letang, director of the National Agency for the Study of Snow and Avalanches (ANENA).

It appears that the area where the avalanche occurred was clearly marked as closed.

“No one can argue that he didn’t know they were on a closed piste.” –  Jean-Paul Bonnetain, top local government administrator

Location of the avalanche.
Location of the avalanche.

Dozens of candles have been lit alongside notes outside the children’s school in Lyon, 70 miles from the avalanche disaster.  Notes such as “Thoughts with the families, stay strong.”

One student at the school told reporters:

“We’re still in shock.  This outing takes place several times a year, with the same instructors, and there have never been any problems.” – Alain, student

Education Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem stated that a grief counseling center is being set up for “as long as needed.”

Four other people have died in avalanche in France since the start of January.

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