THE grieving father of an Oxford teenager killed in Peru has paid tribute to the girl who left "so many smiles and so much laughter".

Nineteen-year-old Georgia French died in a bus crash on a remote mountain pass in the Andes on Saturday.

The former Oxford High School student was just two weeks into a gap year trip of a lifetime.

She was travelling with two former school friends, Jessica Last, of Banbury, and Charlotte Mardon-Heath, of north Oxford, who were both injured in the crash.

Four others - two Peruvians, an Israeli and a French national - are also believed to have died.

Speaking from the family's home in Davenant Road, North Oxford, father Ian French said Georgia would always be remembered for her spirit and passion for life.

Mr French said: "We are devastated and it will be very difficult. But she was the most happy, fun-loving girl you could ever meet and she touched so many lives.

"She was a very loving and very successful girl, and she was a party girl. She loved everyone around her and it seems bloody unfair she has been taken away."

He added: "She has left a lot of smiles and laughter, but we can never replace her."

Georgia's mother Pat French flew to Peru at the weekend, along with the parents of Miss Last and Miss Mardon-Heath.

Georgia's older sister Charlotte, 22, is travelling in India.

Mr French said the family had decided to hold a party this summer in Georgia's memory.

"We are planning a huge celebration this summer to celebrate a wonderful and accomplished life, which is what it was."

The bus crashed about eight hours into its journey from the Peruvian capital Lima to the remote city of Cusco, close to the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu.

Mr French said: "It was in a remote location which is permanently mist-shrouded. We believe the coach came off the road and rolled down the hill."

Mr French said his daughter had been looking forward to the trip for two years.

He said: "If there is any comfort it is that she didn't get hit by a bus in Summertown or waste away with MRSA. If she was going to go, it would be 14,000ft up in the Andes. She was a stunning and accomplished girl who lived life for fun."

The girls, who sat their A-Levels last summer, had flown to Peru two weeks ago after working hard to save thousands of pounds for the five-month trip.

After backpacking around South America they had planned to fly on to Australia and New Zealand before ending their journey in Thailand.

Georgia, who worked at The Bridge nightclub in Hythe Bridge Street, Oxford, to help save for the trip, was planning to start a degree at Manchester University in September.

Mr French said the three friends had known each other for 10 years and were inseparable.

"Part of the tragedy is Jess and Charlotte have lost their closest friend. They are in terrible shock and trauma," he said.

Oxford High School headteacher Felicity Lusk said: "Georgia was full of promise for a bright future. Her untimely death is a tragedy for her family, her friends and the school community here."

Mrs French was due to return to the UK last night and the family are expecting Georgia's body to be flown home today.

Miss Last and Miss Mardon-Heath, along with their parents, are also expected to fly back to the UK today.

British Consulate staff in Peru have visited the scene of the crash and have offered assistance to the families.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We sent staff to where the crash happened and a member of our staff remains with the two girls who survived.

"She accompanied them back to Lima and met with family members who flew over to Peru."

Local police are also investigating the cause of the accident.


PERU has a terrible record for fatal bus crashes. Between June 2004 and June 2005 there were 557 fatalities.

Buses in Peru are often poorly maintained and drivers have a reputation for speeding past each other and overtaking on blind mountain bends.

  • In December 2006, a bus plunged into a ravine in a remote area of south eastern Peru, killing at least 50 people
  • In June 2006, at least 28 miners were killed when their bus plunged into a ravine
  • In May, 2006 a packed bus came off the highway and overturned in the Andes mountains, about 500 miles southeast of the capital Lima killing 13 people and injuring 40
  • In February 2006, at least 30 people died when a bus in southern Peru went off a cliff and plummeted 400 metres down an Andean slope
  • In May 2005, a bus plunged into a deep ravine in a remote mountain area, killing at least 40 people and injuring 16
  • In August 2004, a bus plunged into a gorge, killing six and injuring 43 others.

Last year, the government in Peru launched a zero tolerance campaign to stem the number of fatal accidents on the country's roads after 40 people died in October 2006. Officials began testing the eyesight and reflexes of bus drivers as part of the new safety programme and inspecting buses for roadworthiness.