A 40-year-old man was charged with manslaughter in connection with the death of a little British girl who was killed after a collision in the French alps while she was learning to ski.
The suspect, who has not yet been identified, has been in custody since Saturday in Bonnevile, a commune in eastern France.
Child Died On Impact While Skiing on Beginners' Slope
According to eyewitnesses, the suspect was skiing "at high speed" over a "a slight bump" before he crashed into the little child, identified only as OphÃ©lie. The girl was taking a lesson on a Blue beginners' slope in the resort of Flaine, in France's eastern Haute-Savoie department.
The skier tried to administer first aid to the child, who had been skiing with four other boys and girls, but she never regained consciousness and died while being airlifted to the hospital.
Skier Facing Five Years in Prison, Fine of About $84,500
"The skier involved in the death has been indicted for manslaughter," said a source familiar with the investigation. "He has been placed under judicial control and is specifically accused of a deliberate violation of safety obligations." This was also confirmed by Karline Bouisset, the public prosecutor in Bonnevile.
Bouisset added that as many as 12 people, including direct witnesses to the tragedy, were interviewed "at length." If convicted of the crime, the man, a volunteer firefighter, could face up to five years in prison and a fine equivalent to about $84,500
"The child was in a single file behind the group and was about to make a right turn when she was very violently hit by the skier arriving at high speed who tried in vain to avoid her," Bouisset said.
OphÃ©lie lived with her British parents in Geneva, who also own a holiday home in Les Carroz - another Alpine ski resort. The children were on the Serpentine Blue run, and in a group lesson run by France's ESF national ski school.
"We are actively looking for a psychologist who speaks English for the family, who have returned to Geneva," Jean-Paul Constant, the Mayor of nearby ArÃ¢ches, said. "They are suffering from extreme shock, as are many others involved in this tragedy."