Essex hit-and-run: Family of Harley Watson, 12, 'devastated' by his death

3 December 2019, 17:53

Harley Watson was killed outside his school in Loughton
Harley Watson was killed outside his school in Loughton. Picture: Essex Police
Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

The family of a "lovely boy" who was killed during a hit-and-run outside a Loughton school have said they are "devastated by what has happened."

Tributes made by 12-year-old Harley Watson's family have expressed "devastation" at the loss of the schoolboy.

He was taken to hospital just after 3:20pm on Monday following the collision on Willingale Road and later died of his injuries.

A statement from the family read: "We are so devastated by what has happened. Harley was a good, kind, helpful and lovely boy.

"We would like to thank everyone for their kind wishes and concern. However as a family we would like people to respect our privacy and allow us to grieve in peace."

Harley Watson's family are "devastated" by their loss
Harley Watson's family are "devastated" by their loss. Picture: Instagram

Floral tributes were laid outside Debden Park High School where Harley was killed in what is believed to be a deliberate hit-and-run.

One of those messages read: "I will miss you so much! Forever be in our hearts. Fly high."

A 51-year-old man was arrested on Monday on suspicion of murder after a child died and four teenagers and a 23-year-old woman were injured during a car crash in Loughton, Essex.

Reverend Chris Davies said the community is "sad, hurting and grieving" but "pulling together to try and be there for each other.

"He said "it's not something you expect to see here in Loughton" and says that St John's Church is open "for anyone that is hurting or struggling".

Christian Cavanagh, executive head teacher, described the boy's death as "a young life so tragically lost".

Investigations are ongoing, Essex Police confirmed, and the constabulary has "voluntarily referred" itself to the Independent Office for Police Complaints "based on previous contact between the force and a 51-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder."

However, officers could not comment on any links between the force and the suspect as the investigation is live.

The force is supporting the families of those involved and are working "tirelessly" to establish exactly what happened during the collision on Monday.

In a statement released on Tuesday, DCI Rob Kirby said Essex Police were informed of a separate incident of a car mounting the pavement near Roding Valley High School, Alderton Hill, Loughton.

"The incident near Roding Valley High School, believed to have happened in Brook Road, was reported to us after it became widely known we were dealing with a serious collision in Willingale Road.

"Our investigations have led us to establish that there may be connections between that incident and the one which has led us to establish a murder investigation."

Essex Police are urging anyone with information, dash cam footage, or who may have seen anything on social media that they think could be crucial, to call them on 101 and quote incident number 726 of 2 December.