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British girl ski death: Man charged with manslaughter after five-year-old dies following ski slope collision in French Alps

A man has been charged with manslaughter after a five-year-old British girl died in a crash on the ski slopes in the French Alps.

The child had been taking a skiing lesson on a blue beginners’ slope in the ski resort of Flaine, in France’s eastern Haute-Savoie department, when the collision occurred at around 11am on Saturday.

The girl, who was named locally as Ophelie, was airlifted to hospital but died while she was still in the helicopter.

Karline Bouisset, the public prosecutor in Bonneville, said the man, who was confirmed to be a volunteer firefighter, had been “skiing at high speed”.

She said: “He is a 40-year-old man from Haute-Savoie. He is a regular at the resort. He has been placed under judicial control.

“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.”

The suspect, who has not been publicly named, has also been in custody since Saturday in Bonnevile, eastern France.

Ms Bouisset added that several people, including witnesses who saw the accident take place, have been interviewed “at length” since Saturday.

The punishment for the crime could be up to five years in prison and a fine of £62,000.

Family ‘suffering from extreme shock’

A post-mortem is believed to have taken place yesterday to establish the exact cause of death, but the results have not yet been released.

Jean-Paul Constant, the mayor of nearby Araches, said: “We are actively looking for a psychologist who speaks English for the family, who have returned to Geneva.

“They are suffering from extreme shock, as are many others involved in this tragedy.”

Ophelie is reported to have lived in Geneva with her British parents, who also own their own holiday home in Alpine ski resort Les Carroz.

Flaine is known for being an upmarket resort that is part of the Grand Massif ski area in the French Alps, which has a large number of gentle blue slopes that are suitable for young and beginner skiers.

France’s ski resorts only recently reopened to British travellers after being closed for several weeks due to the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

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