Teacher badly injured on school ski trip

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A teacher had to be airlifted from an Austrian ski slope after badly injuring himself during a school trip.

Nigel Colter, from the Capital, is deputy head teacher of McLaren High in Callander. He was with a party of 28 sixth-year pupils from the school when the accident happened at Zillertal, a popular ski resort in Tyrol, in the west of the country.

The 47-year-old broke his leg in two places when he fell after his skis ploughed into heavy snow.

He was airlifted from the slopes to hospital in Schwaz and had to have 14 screws put into his legs before being flown back home to Edinburgh last week.

This week, school staff and pupils sent their best wishes to Mr Cotter who is off work but on the mend.

Mr Cotter, formerly from Dartford in Kent, is a physics teacher who has worked at McLaren High since 2005.

Recovering at his city home, Mr Cotter said he was on his first McLaren ski trip and until arriving in Austria had not himself skied for 20 years.

He said: “I would like to say it happened on one of the steeper slopes but it was actually on one of the easy ones and I was with a group of beginners.

“I skied into an area at the bottom of the beginners’ slope where the snow was slushy and my skies got caught in the snow.

“My body went round about 180 degrees but my feet didn’t and I suffered a fracture in my tibia, in two places.

“The helicopter came in and took me to hospital which was about three minutes away.

“I then had a two-and-a-half-hour operation under general anaesthetic in which a plate and 14 screws were used on the worst two breaks.

“The hospital and staff over there were very good and the orthopaedic unit I visited here were impressed with what they have done – although it was thought they went overboard with the number of screws.”

Mr Cotter was in hospital for six nights before being flown back to Scotland.

Colleague Norrie Bairner, the PE teacher who organises the school ski expeditions, said: “The abruptness of his skis stopping along with his momentum and his turning action saw him take a tumble.

“It was pretty clear that the injury Mr Cotter suffered was serious, but everyone is glad to hear he is recovering well.”

The accident comes just weeks after Edinburgh scientist Catriona Neath, 32, died after falling nearly 1000 feet in the Swiss Alps.

She fell down a slope while on a 12,000ft peak in the Bernina Range, near the Italian border.

Ms Neath, originally from Bruntsfield, had been returning to a mountain hut with her partner Peter Davies, 34, when the tragedy happened. She died the next day in hospital.