Wimbledon school crash: girl who died is named as Selena Lau as arrested woman is bailed
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A community is reeling following the death of an eight-year-old girl after a Land Rover crashed into an end-of-term tea party at a prep school while another young girl fights for life.
Selena Lau died after the vehicle crashed through the fence and into a building at The Study Prep school in Wimbledon, south-west London on Thursday (6 July) morning.
Her family said she was “adored and loved by everyone” while community members called her their “shining star.” Paying tribute, her family also described her as an “intelligent” and “cheeky” girl.
Issuing a picture of her beaming in her school uniform, they said in a brief statement through the Metropolitan Police: “Selena was an intelligent and cheeky girl adored and loved by everyone. The family wishes their privacy to be respected at this sad time.”
Another eight-year-old girl was in a “life-threatening” condition in hospital on Friday night while a woman in her 40s remains in a critical condition. The driver, a 46-year-old woman from Wimbledon, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and has been bailed pending further inquiries to a date later this month.
She was taken to hospital and her condition was assessed as not life-threatening.
“We can now confirm that sadly a child has died following an incident where a car collided with a building at a school in Wimbledon," the Met Police said in a statement. “There have been further injuries and we await an update from the London Ambulance Service.”
Detective Chief Superintendent Clair Kelland teared up at a press conference at the scene. PA said her voice broke as she told reporters that "very sadly one of the children, an eight-year-old girl, died at the scene... Our thoughts are with her family at this incredibly difficult time.”
Police issue update on the investigation
In a statement on Friday, the Met Police said: "The driver of the car, a 46-year-old woman from Wimbledon, was arrested at the scene on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving.
“She was taken to hospital – her condition was assessed as not life-threatening. She has been bailed pending further inquiries to a date in late July.
“Detectives from the Met’s Serious Collision Investigation Unit are leading the investigation and their inquiries are ongoing. They are expected to remain at the scene throughout the day.
“The investigation remains in its early stages and officers are keeping an open mind whilst following up all lines of inquiry. We ask that people do not speculate about the circumstances while this work is ongoing.”
DCS Kelland added: “It is difficult to imagine the pain and upset the families of those involved are going through and we will do all we can to support them as our investigation continues.
“I know the impact of this tragic incident is also being felt in the wider community and we are working with our partners to ensure the appropriate support is in place.
“This was the largest local policing deployment in south-west London since 2017 and our officers, along with members of the other emergency services, were met with a challenging and traumatic scene.
“I would like to praise them for doing all they could to help those injured. I have no doubt this incident would have also had a significant impact on them, and we will ensure their welfare is looked after.
“I understand many people will want answers about how this happened and there is a team of detectives working to establish the circumstances. I would ask the community to avoid speculating on a possible cause whilst these enquiries are carried out.”
Aerial photos shows area set up for party
Aerial photos of the scene revealed a black and gold Range Rover that had collided with a building. The area outside the building appeared to be set up for a party, with tables set with plastic cups and food.
One of the seating benches looked to have been crushed by the vehicle, with party supplies strewn across the lawn. A nearby resident told the Evening Standard an end-of term party was being held at for students at the time.
16 people were treated at the scene
London Ambulance Service chief paramedic John Martin said a total of 16 patients were treated at the scene, and 10 were taken to hospital. “We dispatched multiple resources including specialist critical care paramedics, London’s air ambulance and 15 ambulances," he said. “We declared a major incident."
In a statement published on its website, The Study Preparatory School 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 continued. “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 the school's top priority, and it would be doing everything it could to support them, "especially those who suffered injuries", the statement said. The school would not be making any further comment while the police investigation was underway, it said.
The Met Police earlier tweeted: “We were called at 9.54am to reports that a car collided with a building at the school. Several people are being treated at the scene. We will share further updates when we can."
Paramedics, including London’s Air Ambulance, and fire crews were also at the scene. The force also tweeted that it was "not treating this incident as terror-related", but an investigation was underway to understand the full circumstances of what happened.
“We are currently supporting emergency services at an incident at a school in Wimbledon," the London Fire Brigade said on Twitter. “We have two fire engines and two fire rescue units at the scene.”
Speaking to the PA news agency, local MP Stephen Hammond said the crash had been declared a "major incident" by local police. “It appears just before 10 o’clock today, the police were called to the incident that a Range Rover drove into the school.
“There are a number of people who are critically injured as I understand it and given the scale of the response from emergency services… this is a very serious incident," he added.
The ongoing incident took place at The Study Preparatory School, a prep school costing £5,565 per term, for girls aged four to 11 on Wimbledon Common. It is just a mile away from the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club as it hosts the world-famous tennis tournament.
Education Secretary Gillian Keegan said the “devastating” incident in Wimbledon happened when school staff and children “should have been enjoying their last day of term” before the summer holidays.
“It is devastating that a young girl has lost her life in the tragic incident in Wimbledon this morning and my heart goes out to her parents and the families of those injured and impacted by this tragic event," she said. “The staff and children of the Study Preparatory School should have been enjoying their last day of term and my thoughts remain with them and the wider community at this devastating time.
Keegan said her department was supporting the school and wouldcontinue to do so as the police carried out their investigations.
Home Secretary Suella Braverman was one of many UK politicians to tweet about the crash, saying she was “saddened to hear about the tragic incident at the school in Wimbledon this morning”.
“My thoughts are with everyone affected. I would like to thank emergency responders at the scene. It is important they are now able to carry out their investigation.”