Church sued over fatal crash

The Free Church of Scotland is to be sued in a South American court after two Peruvian teenage boys were killed in a car crash while in the Church’s care on a school trip to the Highlands.

Donald MacLeod, 82, was driving the Honda CRV in which all three died when it crashed into a parked lorry in Inverness in 2006.

It was reported the Free Kirk member, a former rector of Fortrose Academy who lived in Inverness, had a heart attack at the wheel.

Another report suggested that the boys, who were being taken to rejoin the rest of their party, were not wearing seatbelts.

Carlos Gonzales, 15, and Gianmarco Peschiera, 14, were in a group of 12 Peruvian students on a school trip organised by the Free Church of Scotland and Colegio San Andres (Saint Andrew’s School), in Lima, which was founded by the Free Church in 1917.

The action is for civil damages on the grounds of negligence on the part of the Colegio San Andres, school owners the Free Church of Scotland, and Donald MacAulay, former headmaster of Colegio San Andres.

The civil case has been brought by the parents of Gianmarco Peshiera.

Mr MacLeod was said to have taken ill seconds before his car crashed into the back of a Tesco heavy goods vehicle that was parked in a layby.

The A9 at Inverness was thrown into chaos following the accident, which happened at 7.55am on the north-bound carriageway on July 31, 2006, about 500 yards from the Kessock Bridge roundabout.

The teenagers were being driven to North Kessock where they were due to meet the 10 other members of their group and two teachers at Knockbain Free Church for a trip to the Isle of Lewis.

They had recently been attending Free Church youth camps and were then staying with families in the Inverness area.

The Free Church said the case had led to “great tension and anxiety” within the fee-paying school, which is part of a long-standing mission in the Peruvian city.

The case is due to begin in Lima on December 1.

• Full story at The Herald.