Select Page

A British schoolboy died during a school trip to the French Alps when his backpack got stuck in a ski lift, an inquest has heard.

Kieran Brookes was strangled when his backpack straps got tangled in the mechanism in the Alpine resort of Chatel in February 2011. The 14-year-old, from Bovey Tracey, Devon, was suspended in the air for around four minutes before he was released.

Attempts were made to revive the Torquay boys grammar school pupil before he was taken to hospital in Annecy with a severe brain injury. He was later transferred to the intensive care unit at the Royal Devon and Exeter hospital where he died a month later on 17 March.

Charlotte Pittocho, a teacher who was on the trip, told the inquest in Exeter that she did not hear anyone – either teachers, ski instructors or ski lift staff – tell people to remove rucksacks from their backs and put them on their laps while onboard.

“During the trip there was no specific advice given to the boys on how to use the lifts,” Pittocho said. “It was something that was never directly discussed between the teachers and we did not specifically talk to the boys about how to use the lifts.

“After the incident I saw there were a number of small signs near to the entrance for the ski lifts about rucksacks. I felt they were easily missed. At no point did I see anyone being told to remove their rucksacks, and I was wearing mine on my back all day and I was never told to remove it.”

Pittocho said Kieran boarded the ski lift ahead of her and she was not aware of any problem until the lift stopped and a siren went off. She said she turned around and could see someone suspended 50ft (15 metres) above the ground from one of the chairs. Read More …