A 14-year-old Devon schoolboy, Kieran Brookes, died during a school trip to the Alps when the straps of his backpack became entangled in a mechanism of the ski lift in Chatel, on the French-Swiss border. Last Tuesday, the man who was supervising the ski lift at the time of the 2011 accident, 50-year-old Richard Cettour, was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and handed a six month suspended jail term.
But the company that operated the lift, SAEM Sports et Tourism a Chatel, was cleared of the same charge. Kieran’s parents, Cindy and Nick Brookes, of Bovey Tracey, Devon, said they did not feel that justice had been done and said they wanted to raise awareness of the risks highlighted by the case.
In a statement, they said: “We are satisfied that someone has been held to account over Kieran’s death. However, we believe that this tragedy highlighted serious industry failings which went further than an individual’s inattention.
“Without widespread improvements across the industry we think a similar tragedy could happen again.”
Prosecutors had accused both Mr. Cettour and the company of a string of serious health and safety breaches including failing to enforce a rule banning skiers from boarding the lift while wearing backpacks, not carrying out daily checks on equipment and not ensuring a safety device which could stop the lift was properly installed.
During an earlier hearing, Cettour offered his apologies to Kieran’s parents. Accused of not being at his post at the time of the accident and not reacting to other skiers’ calls to hit the emergency stop, Mr. Cettour confessed that he was busy cleaning tools inside his hut when tragedy struck. See French Resort Faces Criminal Charges.