A five-year-old British girl has died after being hit by a skier in the French Alps, according to French media.
A man in his 40s was being held on suspicion of manslaughter on Sunday after the accident in the resort of Flaine, Haute-Savoie, at about 11am on Saturday, Le Dauphine reported. The girl was said to have been taking part in a group ski lesson run by ESF (Ecole du Ski Français) with four other children on a blue (intermediate) piste.
The public prosecutor for Bonneville told France Bleu: “The child was in 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 accident was said to have taken place at the edge of the piste during clear weather. The girl’s family live in Geneva but have a second home in Les Carroz, which is one of five linked resorts in the Grand Massif area in the French Alps.
She died as she was being airlifted to hospital by helicopter. The skier who collided with her, reportedly a volunteer firefighter, was said to be “devastated” and in shock.
A postmortem will be carried out on the girl. The manslaughter investigation, which will be conducted by Bonneville police, will look at whether the man in custody was skiing too quickly and paying due attention to safety.
Jean-Paul Constant, the mayor of local municipality Arâches, disse: “Everyone was very shocked.” He said staff at the resort would be provided with counselling and he was also looking for a psychologist who speaks English to assist the girl’s family, who have returned to Geneva.
France’s ski industry has experienced significant disruption as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and has been gradually reopening to people from outside the country.