Alps coach crash: British driver killed is named

Firefighter stands near bus wreckage
Image caption The coach was carrying ski resort staff returning to the UK

The British driver who died after a coach carrying ski resort staff crashed in the French Alps has been named as Maurice Wrightson, from Northumberland.

Three seriously injured Britons remain in hospital. They were among more than 50 people on the coach, which crashed and burst into flames.

The chartered coach had been transporting staff back to the UK at the end of the ski season.

The crash happened on Tuesday afternoon, near the Alpe d'Huez resort.

Vehicle brakes

The coach crashed as it travelled down a steep mountain road, which features 21 hairpin bends. The road regularly features in the Tour de France cycling race.

Mr Wrightson, 63, worked for County Durham-based Classic Coaches and the coach had been hired by Brighton company Skibound.

Police suspect there was a problem with the vehicle's brakes, causing it to veer off the road and smash into rocks before bursting into flames.

Several passengers escaped from the burning wreckage by jumping from the windows. A helicopter was scrambled to the scene where firefighters battled to put out the flames.

Facebook tributes

French transport minister Frederic Cuvillier praised Mr Wrightson's "remarkable courage" when he visited the scene.

Mr Cuvillier suggested that Mr Wrightson, from Ashington, had saved lives by trying to slow down the vehicle by hitting rocks rather than risk it going over a precipice.

Family and friends paid tribute to Mr Wrightson using a Facebook tribute page for the driver.

Wendy Wrightson described him as "a good man who lost his life far too soon but lost it a hero doing what he did best".

She wrote: "We lit all our candles last night and chatted fondly about you. You will be a huge miss to many people but I wish you peace and sleep well, you deserve it. I am sure your star will be shining brightly for all to see and see it we all will."

Steve Wardlaw said: "Everyone who new Maurice liked him. Everyone who met him had a Maurice story to tell. And every Maurice story left you smiling... RIP a legend to us all."

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