THE death of a 12-year-old girl in a swimming accident on a school trip to France was a “terrible tragedy” and a “dreadful shock to the whole school community”, her headteacher said yesterday.
The pupil at the Wolfreton School in Hull was taken to hospital in Limoges after an incident at an activity centre yesterday afternoon but died yesterday morning.
Her parents and sister have travelled to the activity centre resort along with senior staff from the school.
Headteacher Dave McCready said: “Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers go to the family at this very difficult time.”
The girl was among 24 students and three staff who were on a water sports trip to an adventure centre in the Massif Central.
France Bleu reported the girl had spent several days at the centre and was among a group playing in a lake and jumping from a pontoon.
The pontoon then overturned and some of the children were trapped underneath. The lifeguard dived down twice before finding the girl, it was reported.
Mr McCready said the girl, who has not been named, died yesterday. French authorities have started an investigation and are interviewing students, after which they will be brought home and reunited with their families. Counsellors will also be available to help those affected. He added: “As a parent myself I can only begin to imagine the pain felt by her parents and family at her death at such a young age.
“As you would expect the news of this terrible tragedy has come as a dreadful shock to our whole school community and we will continue to liaise with the appropriate bodies to provide ongoing support to the family and also to other students and staff who will be deeply affected by this tragic news.”
The pupils left the school for the trip on Saturday on a six-day trip to the Club Correze Adventure Centre of Meymac, in central France, and were due to return home today.
The adventure holiday gave the children the chance to try kayaking, canoeing and sailing, as well as activities such as climbing, mountain biking and orienteering.
One of the conditions for going on the trip was that pupils had to be able to swim 50 metres unaided, although a letter to parents said they did “not have to be technically sound or regular swimmers”.
Steve Scott, managing director of tour company Activ4, said: “We can confirm that a student on one of our trips to the south of France passed away this morning following a swimming incident yesterday afternoon.
“At this stage the exact circumstances surrounding the incident remain unclear.
“The owners of the activity centre and senior management from Activ4 are working closely with the local authority and the school to provide all necessary support and assistance.”
Mike Furbank, East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s head of children and young people, education and schools, said: “The council is providing close support to the school and to the student’s family in these tragic circumstances and arrangements are being made for other members of the school party to travel home as soon as possible.”