Teacher tells of ski trip tragedy

THE moment when a lorry ploughed into a coach and killed a promising Suffolk teenager while on a school ski-ing trip was relived by one of his teachers yesterday.

THE moment when a lorry ploughed into a coach and killed a promising Suffolk teenager while on a school ski-ing trip was relived by one of his teachers yesterday.

Stuart Dines,14, died from severe head injuries after a German lorry smashed in to his school coach party going to a ski trip in Austria in February 2006.

The schoolboy and 54 fellow pupils from Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham were in a parked coach on a German autobahn when it was hit by the lorry.

Yesterday one of the teachers from the ski-ing trip recounted the last moments of Stuart's life, which was cut short when he was struck by a piece of metal thrown up by the crash.

PE teacher Mark Harding was speaking at the start of a two day inquest into the death of Stuart, who lived in Woodbridge, and two Norfolk residents, Jane Irving and Ronald Lees, who were killed in the aftermath of the horrific crash.

Mrs Irving and Mr Lees were in a coach that then crashed into the back of the damaged German lorry.

Most Read

Following the crashes the German lorry driver received a two year suspended prison sentence.

As well as hearing details of the incident, Yarmouth coroner Keith Dowding criticised German authorities for not handing over vital tachograph information from vehicles involved in the autobahn crash, in which more than 100 people were injured.

Yesterday's hearing was told that the school coach party of 55 pupils from Thomas Mills High School in Framlingham had pulled over to a hard shoulder off the A4 in the early hours of February 11 because of a punctured tyre.

Despite leaving out warning lights and switching on all the coach's lights, the German lorry driver, who was believed to be travelling at 90kph, hit the parked vehicle.

Coach driver Derek Jewell was checking the warning lights when the lorry hit the coach and shunted it 70ft into a field.

He said: “I saw there was a lorry coming along the inside lane drifting towards the solid white line. It brushed past me. As I span around it proceeded to drive into the near rear side of the coach. There was a lot of flying debris, a lot of sparks.”

Stuart, 14, and from Woodbridge, died shortly after the collision from a severe head injury when he was struck and pinned down to his coach seat by a piece of metal.

His PE teacher Mark Harding said: “He was trapped, unconscious and unresponsive. I kept talking to Stuart. I then felt his pulse get weaker.”

David Ives, a ski instructor in the coach, told the inquest: “The impact was massive. The coach moved violently - it seemed like forever. All the children were shouting and screaming.

“There was a piece of metal passing over his (Stuart's) shoulder. It appeared to have pierced his jacket.”

Minutes after the crash a coach carrying 36 Norwich School pupils and five staff members then crashed into the German lorry.

Experienced coach driver and father of two Mr Lees, from Gorleston, died from crush injuries to the brain. The school's secretary, Mrs Irving, 53, and a mother of two, died two days after the accident from multiple injuries.

Mr Lees had been a last minute replacement as assistant driver after a colleague's child had to be rushed to hospital.

At the start of yesterday's hearing coroner Keith Dowding said one of the reasons the inquest was taking place three years after the crashes was because German authorities had refused to hand over tachograph information from vehicles involved in the crash.

Despite pleas through the former Home Office and Foreign Office, German authorities would not provide the information as the coroner's office was not a prosecuting authority.

Mr Dowding said: “I certainly was not happy with that.”

The inquest, at Yarmouth Magistrates' Court, will conclude today.