Published: 06:00, 30 August 2021
| Updated: 14:37, 31 August 2021
The family of a woman who died at a French ski resort after a teenage snowboarder crashed into her, and severed her spine, say they don’t blame anyone.
In April, 2016, Jackie Read and her partner Barry Philpott were enjoying their final day in Flaine, a resort in France where they had worked for two years, when the fatal accident happened.
The pair had stopped on the side of the mountain when a young and inexperienced 14-year-old snowboarder collided with the 54-year-old, sending her 20 to 30 yards down the slope.
Her cause of death was given as a severed spinal chord.
An inquest at Archbishop’s Palace in Maidstone was finally heard last week – more than five years after a lengthy criminal investigation involving the young snowboarder.
He was eventually convicted of manslaughter in a juvenile court.
Despite this, Miss Read’s family don’t blame the teenager for the tragic accident.
Speaking remotely at this week’s hearing, and as a spokesman for the family, daughter Nicola Read said: “I feel strongly and I’m sure my family agree, that it was a complete accident.
“I don’t blame anyone. It was an accident.”
The inquest was told it was one of the first times the 14-year-old had been on a snowboard and he was on the blue track, usually for intermediates, where Jackie and Barry had been waiting.
Coroner Geoffery Smith heard how weather conditions were good and the youngster would have been able to see the pair on his way down.
He read out a short part of the teenager’s interview with police, which was taken two years after the accident. It said: “Whenever I tell this story it hurts because I killed someone.”
He went on to say he was going very fast, but wasn’t sure how fast exactly.
He said his memory of the accident wasn’t clear because of how long ago it happened.
Mr Smith paid his condolences to the family and apologised for the time it had taken to be able to hold the inquest before he ruled Jackie Read’s death was accidental.
Speaking five years ago, Mr Philpott paid tribute to his “soulmate” following her tragic death.
“She was a superb person. We used to do everything together – we were soulmates."
The pair met in Tenerife more than 35 years ago when Jackie, a mother-of-four, started working at a restaurant there built by Mr Philpott. They also lived in Yorkshire.
He said: “She was a superb person. Skiing was her only hobby. Jackie was a lot better than me, she’d been skiing for years.
“We used to do everything together – we were soulmates.
“We were going to go to Australia in September to get married. My son Ian lives out there and we’ve been two or three times.
“The kids have really been there for me. If it wasn’t for them I couldn’t keep going. I’ll never forget her.”