- Tyne Tees
- 15 updates
Tributes have been paid to a heroic County Durham coach driver who is believed to have died trying to stop his malfunctioning vehicle going over a ravine in the Alps.
Maurice Wrightson died when the coach he was driving left the road on Tuesday, smashing into rocks before bursting into flames.
Friends and family left scores of comments on a Facebook tribute page for the driver, who worked for Classic Coaches, based at Annfield Plain.
He is understood to have been a driver since the 1960s, and other tributes came in from bus and coach drivers across the country praising him for his actions.
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".
Heath Williams, managing director of TGM, the coach firm's parent company, paid tribute to Mr Wrightson, saying he would be "sadly missed".
64-year-old Maurice Wrightson was driving more than 50 people on their way back from Alpe d'Huez when the coach left the road on Tuesday, smashing into rocks before bursting into flames.
French police say they suspect there was a problem with the vehicle's brakes.
The driver's "remarkable courage" was praised by French transport minister Frederic Cuvilliern when he visited the scene.
The minister reportedly said the position of the bus suggested Mr Wrightson tried to slow the bus down by hitting rocks rather than risk it going over a precipice and that his actions saved lives.
A North East bus driver who died in a crash in the French Alps has been hailed as a hero.
The quick thinking of 64-year-old Maurice Wrightson, a driver with County Durham firm Classic Coaches, is thought to have saved the lives of the passengers on board.
He steered his coach into a tree to stop it going over the edge of a mountain after it developed problems.
Investigators are now trying to establish exactly what went wrong.
You can watch the full report from Kenny Toal below.
An online condolence page has been started to pay tribute to 64-year-old Maurice Wrightson, who was killed when the coach he was driving in the French alps crashed.
You can leave your tributes on the page by clicking here.
The driver killed in a coach crash in the French Alps has been named as North East man Maurice Wrightson.
The 64-year-old, who was working for Stanley-based Classic Coaches, was one of two North East employees from the bus company Arriva, who were transporting 52 people back to the UK.
The owners of a North East coach company said a driver alerted passengers before his vehicle crashed in France last night - which may have saved lives. The driver himself, who was from the North East, was killed.
TGM, which owns Classic Coaches, said the driver tried to take evasive action and paid tribute to his efforts.
The company also paid tribute to a second driver from the North East, who was uninjured, for helping passengers to leave the vehicle.
It added: “It is too early to say what caused the accident, however, we have launched a full investigation and are working closely with the local authorities. Our own safety specialist is attending the scene to support the investigation.”
The bus driver who died in a crash in the Alps has been hailed a hero. The driver, who was working for Stanley-based Classic Coaches, is said to have warned passengers there seemed to be a problem before taking evasive action.
The company he worked for released a statement paying tribute to his quick thinking. Investigations are ongoing now into what may have caused the crash.
British ski company Skibound has confirmed that a coach driver from the North East has died in a crash in the French Alps.
The vehicle was carrying ski resort staff back to the UK from Alpe d'Huez when it crashed 65km from Grenoble at approximately 1:45pm local time.
The driver was one of two North East employees from the bus company Arriva, who were transporting 52 people back to the UK, with Newcastle as their final destination.
The ski company said 29 passengers have been taken to hospitals in the area, four of which are being treated for more serious injuries. The further 23 passengers have escaped serious injury and are now with police and councillors at a local hotel.
In a statement Skibound said:
A coach carrying ski resort staff that crashed in the French alps was owned by a North East company.
Classic Coaches is based at Annfield Plain, in County Durham.
Brighton-based company Skibound have confirmed that the bus which crashed in the French Alps was bound for Newcastle as its final destination.