A 12-year-old boy who died when a car mounted a pavement in a ‘deliberate’ hit and run outside a school is pictured for the first time today.
The pupil, named locally as Harley Watson, was killed and five others were injured when a vehicle ploughed into students near Debden Park High School in Loughton yesterday afternoon.
Hundreds of children were walking out of the school gates when the car hurtled towards them at 3.20pm. The crash flung girls and boys into the air, while others managed to leap out of the way.
Four teenagers, also thought to be pupils at the school in Essex and a 23-year-old woman were injured in the collision. The 12-year-old was taken to hospital where he later died.
One of the youngsters hurt in the crash told the BBC he heard a car ‘revving’ behind him before it sped on to the pavement. The boy said he believed the incident was deliberate.
Police also revealed checks were being made to see if there is a connection to a similar incident, reported at Roding Valley High School, also in Loughton, at 3.10pm – just ten minutes earlier.
A man from Loughton has been arrested on suspicion of murder. He is also being held on six counts of attempted murder and one of causing death by dangerous driving. The arrest came after police earlier said they were searching for Loughton man Terry Glover over the incident.
Tributes have been paid on social media to the youngster, who was remembered as ‘caring’ and ‘would never hurt anyone.’
The message read: ‘Today my little mate Harley sadly was involved in a devastated accident which has killed him.
‘I know Harley did not deserve any of this because he was a caring boy and would never hurt anyone so everyone please make all your family members that drive a car, to please be careful on the roads.’
He added: ‘Our hearts as praying with Harley’s family.’
Another said: ‘He never deserved this and was one of the nicest kids I knew. ‘[He] was one of the happiest and nicest kids I knew … and can’t think what his family and friends are going through.
‘This world is so cruel you don’t know when bad things are going to happen. ‘Always loved and was always the one to put a smile on everyone’s face. I don’t know what I’m gonna do without u little man but fly high Harley RIP.’
And a third said: ‘Fly high Harley. It’s such a shame that it had to be you, you always put a smile on my face and school won’t be the same without you man.
‘Rest in perfect paradise.’
One father, whose daughter was hit by the car, told Essex Live ‘A Ford KA mounted the pavement behind her. Her friend was bounced onto the bonnet before another boy was hit badly.
‘The car drove off down the road and the police arrived quickly.
‘My daughter is safe, but the wing mirror clipped my daughter. Her friend got thrown off the bonnet. It was awful to witness. Everyone is in shock.’
Officers began a manhunt as they tried to trace a silver Ford Ka, with the registration LS08 OKW, which is believed to have been damaged in the crash in Willingale Road.
Roding Valley’s headteacher Sharon Jenner wrote in a statement: ‘The police are appealing for further information and I can confirm that we have been made aware from several of our students that a car, similar in description was seen in Brook Road, Loughton, at about 3:10pm.
‘We have reported this sighting to the police to support the ongoing investigation.’
Head teacher Helen Gascoyne said that Debden Park school had been ‘devastated’ by the death of one of its students and that pupils would be offered counselling today.
Debden Park school executive head Christian Cavanagh said today: ‘On behalf of the School and the Trust we send our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of this young man.
‘A young life so tragically lost. This young man had made his mark on the school and was liked and loved by staff and students. We will consult with the family and our school community to decide how best to commemorate his life.’
Chief Superintendent Tracey Harman told reporters last night: ‘We believe that the collision was deliberate and as such we have launched a murder investigation.
‘We are investigating whether or not this incident may have been connected with another incident nearby.’