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Alps Coach Driver Given Posthumous Bravery Award

The coach driver who died saving the lives of 51 people returning to the UK from the French ski resort of Alpe d’Huez, has been awarded the Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.

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Maurice Wrightson was driving down the steep mountain road on 16th April 2013 when the brakes on the coach failed.

As he approached one of the 21 hairpin bends on the road down from the resort, he realised his brakes were not responding.

“Mr Wrightson had to make an immediate decision,” the citation on the UK Government website says.

“To avoid the risk of the coach failing to take the bend and tipping into the ravine alongside the road, Mr Wrightson chose instead to crash the coach into the rocks on the other side of the bend.

“When it hit the boulders, the coach burst into flames. Some passengers received serious injuries and Mr Wrightson lost his life.

“However, his actions prevented the coach from falling into the ravine, which would have presented an even more serious risk to the lives of his passengers.”

We reported on the accident at the time and the inquest into Maurice Wrightson’s death.

The coach was bringing seasonal staff who had been working for SkiBound back to the UK at the end of the winter season.

One of them, Catrin Pugh, said the honour was well overdue.

”When our coach crashed, Maurice Wrightson made the decision to basically sacrifice himself to give us all a chance to live,” she said in a social media ost.

“This bravery has just been recognised and awarded by many, with Maurice receiving A Queen’s Commendation for Bravery.

“Whilst he isn’t alive to accept it, I hope it secures his legacy of being a hero to so many of us, and allows others to also remember this man’s absolute selflessness!

Thank you Maurice!”

Catrin Pugh was 19 at the time of the accident and travelling home to North Wales.

She suffered 96% burns in the crash, had to undergo more than 200 operations and has permanent damage to her eyesight.

 

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