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French liftie guilty of manslaughter of British boy
Tuesday November 17, 2015 - Email this article to a friend

Kieran Brookes, who was 14 and came from Devon, was strangled when the straps of his backpack got caught on a chair lift at Chatel in February 2011.

The 50-year old ski lift operator, Richard Cettour from Bonnevaux, has been found guilty of indirect manslaughter and given a six-month suspended prison sentence. 

The firm which operated the lift, SAEM Sports et Tourisme a Châtel, was cleared of the same offence. 

Cettour was responsible for the supervising the lift but was not at his post at the time of the accident. He also failed to react to other skiers who were urging him to press the emergency stop button. 

PlanetSKI reported on the accident at the time and has been following the court case in Thonon-les-Bains.

Kieran, a pupil at Torquay Boys' Grammar School, was on first ski trip.

He was attempting to get off the six-seater lift when he was left dangling in the air.

His rucksack straps and clothing  had caught around his neck, blocking off his airway.

The court heard from eyewitnesses that he was left suspended for about four minutes before he was released. 

He was taken to hospital in Annecy after attempts were made to revive him and was later transferred to a hospital in Devon where he died in March 2011.

Kieran's parents, Nick and Cindy Brookes,  have been giving their reaction to the verdicts, reported on the BBC News website. 

"This has been an incredibly difficult process and yet we do not feel that justice has been done," 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.

"It is only a slight consolation that the resort operator has apologised to us for failings, and admitted moral guilt over Kieran's death."

The case has been watched closely by other lift operating companies and their staff.

People are recommended to remove rucksacks and place them on their lap when taking a chairlift.

Some lifts have a sign to this effect and in some cases lift operators ask people to remove backpacks.

The lift itself was two years old at the time of the accident and had carried over three quarters of a million people without major incident.

Investigators from the regional chairlift bureau in Bonneville visited the scene of the accident shortly after the tragedy.

For the spirit of the mountains

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