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Tragedy at end of term party: Girl, 8, dies and ten in hospital after Land Rover ploughs into Wimbledon school
7 July 2023, 07:21 | Updated: 7 July 2023, 07:49
Heartbroken parents sobbed on the school run after a Land Rover crashed into a primary school in south London, killing one girl, 8, and critically injuring several more.
Children at The Study Prep school in Wimbledon, were outside enjoying a tea party when the two tonne Land Rover crashed through the outdoor play area, leaving multiple children fighting for their lives.
A total of 16 patients - both children and adults - were treated at the scene, and 10 were taken to hospital, according to the London Ambulance Service.
The youngest victim is just four years old. Police have since removed the car.
A statement on the school's website said: “We are profoundly shocked by the tragic accident this morning at Wilberforce House and devastated that it has claimed the life of one of our young pupils as well as injuring several others.
"Our thoughts are with the bereaved family and with the families of those injured at this terrible time.
"It is still far too soon to fully understand what happened, but we are well aware of the significant impact this dreadful event will have on our pupils and their families.
"Their welfare remains our top priority and we will be doing everything we can to support them, especially those who suffered injuries.
"Now that a police investigation is underway we will not be making any further public statement for the time being and would ask that the privacy of our school community is respected at this deeply upsetting time."
Pictures have emerged from the scene showing devastated parents embracing one another as they collected their children and tried to process what had occured.
Zac Powell, a local, told reporters: "I arrived at around quarter past 10, within 15 minutes of the incident happening.
"I saw a lot of distraught parents rushing from the scene on my arrival.
"Since then I have seen a lot of parents coming and picking up their children with expressions of relief or despair."
Fighting back tears, Detective Chief Superintendent Clair Kelland said the police "can now confirm that sadly an eight-year-old child has died" following the incident, with sixteen others treated at the scene".
Police officer fights back tears as she announces death of eight-year-old at Wimbledon school
The Met's local police commander for south west London, DCS Kelland added: ”We can also confirm that the driver of the vehicle, a woman aged in her 40s, has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
“This is tragic news and our thoughts are with the girl’s family and friends, and everyone affected today.
“We remain at the scene and are continuing our investigation into the full circumstances of the incident."
Reports suggest multiple children have been critically hurt - with victims as young as four believed to be among the injured.
Pictures from the scene show tables and chairs crushed by the 4x4 before hitting the wall of the school while teachers and students were celebrating breaking up for summer.
Emergency services responded to the incident in Merton at 9:54am on Thursday, after reports of a vehicle colliding with a school building.
The London Ambulance Service declared a major incident after the female driver crashed into the school. It was reported the driver may have suffered a medical episode at the wheel.
Local Conservative MP Stephen Hammond labelled the incident "extremely distressing and extremely concerning".
The Met have said the incident is not being treated as terror related.
"I've just spoken to the local police, they are in attendance as are both air and paramedics," Hammond said, adding: "There are a number of casualties, I'm not clear how many. I know the area well, obviously."
Arial pictures show the vehicle resting against the school building, after appearing to have careered through the school playground.
The incident took place on the last day of the school term.
The school, which costs £5,565 per term, is for girls aged four to 11 and sits on Wimbledon Common.
Located just a mile away from the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club as it hosts the world-famous tennis tournament, the school "admits up to 48 pupils a year" from reception through to year six.
Speaking with the BBC, Hammond added there were “a number of injuries and casualties”.
"The area is really quite remote, but actually it's a road that has quite a number of people that drive up and down it to the golf clubs," Hammond added.
An initial statement from the Metropolitan Police said a "Land Rover vehicle collided with a primary school building at Camp Road, SW19".
"We are aware of several casualties. We await further updates regarding injuries," the Met continued in a statement.
London's Air Ambulance was also in attendance with multiple casualties believed to be in a critical condition.
Witness Margaret Murray told LBC: “More and more police cars came by, I thought there was some sort of riot or something.
“Then a woman came by walking her dog and she told us a car who had gone into the school. She was in terrible tears.
“It’s shocking I just can’t believe it. I can’t understand it.“I heard it was a Land Rover," adding: “I’m surprised a car could get in there at speed. It’s a shock. It’s dreadful for the families.”
Speaking on the incident, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: "The incident this morning at a primary school on Camp Road in Wimbledon is absolutely devastating. My heart goes out to everyone affected."
"It's quite a tight road, so people have to stop and let each other past.'It's right on the corner of the common, just by Wimbledon Common Golf Club, but also just down the road, the Royal Wimbledon Golf Club," Hammond continued.
"It's on what we would call the quadrangle, Camp Road is part of the quadrangle with West View, North View as well. It's basically about a mile outside Wimbledon Village.
"The Study prep school is in two parts. The part that's at Camp Road deals with children from reception usually up to the age of eight or nine. Nursery, eight or nine. And girls, young girls, as well.
"Obviously very concerning to hear about this incident. It's quite remote from the middle of Wimbledon. There's a very good pub on the corner.
"Surprising. For quite a tight road, because of the way it works at particular times of the day, it's very busy, it becomes quite tight to past."
Speaking with the BBC, the London Air Ambulance confirmed emergency services have deployed "a fair amount of resources to the scene", including "response officers" and a "hazardous area response unit".
The London Fire Brigade said: "We are currently supporting emergency services at an incident at a school in Wimbledon.
"We have two fire engines and two fire rescue units at the scene"
Officers remain on scene as part of the ongoing incident.