Lucky to be alive

Gendarmes stand by a vehicle on a road near Annecy Lake in Chevaline, southeastern France.

ANNECY, France — French police have found a girl aged about four alive in a car with the dead bodies of three adult relatives following a gruesome shooting attack on a family of British holidaymakers on a remote road in the French Alps.

The English-speaking girl was discovered around midnight yesterday, huddled between the front and back seats of the British-registered BMW, under the legs of two dead women thought to be her mother and grandmother, a public prosecutor said.

Apparently too scared to move, she went unnoticed by police for some eight hours until investigators finally opened the doors of the car, standing on a forest road near Lake Annecy, to begin a close forensic inspection.

“She’s clearly shocked but she’s doing okay. She’s not injured,” Annecy prosecutor Eric Maillaud told reporters in a late-night briefing.

“She started smiling and speaking English as soon as a gendarme from the Chambery search brigade took her in his arms and got her out of the car,” Maillaud said, adding that she had been taken to a hospital in the city of Grenoble.

A man thought to be the girl’s father was found dead in the driver’s seat of the car when police arrived at the scene on Wednesday afternoon.

A fourth victim, a man who appeared to be a local cyclist, was found dead nearby, and a girl of around 8 found in the vicinity, believed to be the younger child’s sister, was rushed to the hospital in Grenoble with serious injuries.

“She was struck very violently and apparently has skull fractures,” Maillaud said.

Local media quoted people in the area as saying they had seen a vehicle speeding away from the crime scene around the time that a passer-by spotted the bodies.

The car belonged to a British citizen who had left his identity papers with a nearby campsite, Maillaud said. The dead cyclist appeared to be a local man whose wife had reported him missing. (Reuters)

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