Aspiring ski instructor, 29, wins payout after horror crash

Aspiring ski instructor, 29, left with fear of mountain roads after jumping from smashed window of burning bus in horrific French Alps crash to save his life wins £80,000 payout

  • Edward Billen, 29, fractured his spine after the bus he was travelling on crashed and burst into flames near the Alpe D’Huez resort in April 2013
  • Mr Billen, from Leyton, east London, was injured when he fell while escaping through a smashed window of the coach
  • He was left with long-term pain, post traumatic stress disorder and is anxious about travelling up steep hills

Edward Billen, pictured outside London County Court today, fractured his spine after the bus he was travelling in crashed and burst into flames near Alpe D’Huez in 2013 

An aspiring ski instructor who was left with a fear of mountain roads after a horrific crash in the French Alps has won almost £80,000 in damages.

Edward Billen, 29, fractured his spine after the bus he was travelling in crashed and burst into flames near the Alpe D’Huez resort in April 2013.

Mr Billen, from Leyton, east London, was injured when he fell whilst escaping through a smashed window of the coach.

He was left with long-term pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and is anxious about travelling up steep hills.

Claiming his dream of becoming a ski instructor had been ruined by his ordeal, he sued Classic Coaches, an arm of Arriva Plc, for damages.

Today, awarding him almost £80,000, Judge Simon Freeland QC said it was a ‘most appalling and frightening event’.

The ‘stoic’ ski resort worker had been left suffering from nightmares, flashbacks and ‘avoidance behaviour’, he said.

‘This must have been a terrifying accident to have been involved in,’ he told Central London County Court.

Mr Billen was travelling back from the resort, where he was working at the time, when the driver lost control on a mountain road.

The bus collided with a cliff and burst into flames, leaving dozens of young resort staff having to escape via broken windows.

The coach company admitted liability to pay Mr Billen compensation, but contested how much he should get.

Mr Billen was travelling back from the resort, where he was working at the time, when the driver lost control on a mountain road

Mr Billen claimed around £115,000, while the company argued he should only get about £45,000.

Giving judgment on the amount of the award, Judge Freeland said Mr Billen had been left ‘disabled’ by his injuries.

He sustained four spinal fractures, injury to his left hand and right elbow, scarring and ‘significant shock’.

He had to stop playing football and mountain biking and finds work difficult due to the pain he continues to suffer in his back.

The bus collided with a cliff and burst into flames, leaving dozens of young resort staff having to escape via broken windows


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His step-father Mike Hedges told the court that Mr Billen continues to worry about the smash and has a fear of uphill travel when going to winter resort jobs.

‘There is no doubt this has had a significant effect upon his approach to travelling in coaches, by rail and by aeroplane,’ said the judge.

Awarding damages totaling £77,476, he said Mr Billen was a ‘stoic’ man who had done extremely well to continue to find work after his accident.

He said.’I assess that he is a proud man who, if anything, underplays his symptoms and is reticent to ask for help because he prefers to get on with it.’

Firefighters (pictured) at the scene of the crash in April 2013. Mr Billen was left with long-term pain, post-traumatic stress disorder and is anxious about travelling up steep hills

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