Wimbledon school crash: Girl, 8, is killed and female driver is arrested

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Staff at a London primary school have been left ‘devastated’ after an eight-year-old girl died following a Land Rover crashing into the end-of-term celebrations leaving at least 16 other people injured.

Pupils aged as young as four were enjoying an outdoor tea party on the final day of term when tragedy struck at £16,000-a-year The Study Prep school in Wimbledon.

Police said the driver of the Land Rover Defender, a woman in her 40s, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and remained in custody.

A statement released by school staff said the community was ‘profoundly shocked’ and that the wellbeing of their students remains their ‘top priority’. 

Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Superintendent Clair Kelland teared up as her voice broke in a press conference while she confirmed that a girl aged eight had died, adding: ‘Our thoughts are with her family at this incredibly difficult time.’

Tables and chairs were crushed by the 4×4 before it hit the exterior wall of the main hall – just as teachers, students and parents were marking the start of the holidays.

At least 16 people were treated at the scene, with ten taken to hospital. Several were said to be in ‘serious’ and ‘critical’ conditions as of 6.30pm. A major incident has been declared by Scotland Yard but officers confirmed the incident was not terror-related.

The driver is believed to have suffered a ‘medical incident’ while behind the wheel, which led to her losing control of the car.

Pictures from the scene show how tables and chairs were crushed by the 4x4 before it collided into the exterior wall of the main hall of The Study Prep school in Wimbledon this morning

Pictures from the scene show how tables and chairs were crushed by the 4×4 before it collided into the exterior wall of the main hall of The Study Prep school in Wimbledon this morning

A major incident has been declared following the horror collision in Wimbledon this morning

A major incident has been declared following the horror collision in Wimbledon this morning

Police walk across a road as the investigation into the incident in Wimbledon continues

Police walk across a road as the investigation into the incident in Wimbledon continues

This graphic shows the route the car took before hitting the school, based on witness accounts

This graphic shows the route the car took before hitting the school, based on witness accounts

Witnesses claimed families were sitting on the grass just before 10am when the ‘out of control’ vehicle suddenly veered from Camp Road onto the lawn, forcing them to ‘jump out of the way’ – with one saying the crash sounded ‘like a bomb going off’. 

Following the incident, one witness saw a little girl walking along the road with her parents wearing just her socks with no shoes – with her father also missing a shoe. 

A local resident told MailOnline: ‘It’s terrible. All the children were all sat on the grass having a tea party when the car crashed through a fence and hit them. We have heard it was someone leaving the golf club.’ 

John and Anne, an elderly couple living nearby to the school, said today, as well as marking the end of the term also marked the last day of the private school’s headteacher, Helen Lowe.

John, who did not want to give his last name, said: ‘It was the last day of the old headmistress’ career…Or at the school, anyway. I don’t know if she retired fully.

‘The new headteacher was there when the old one was speaking to police. I walked by at around 11 o’clock, and there was a real scene.

‘The trouble with these big four-by-fours is, when they crash into something, they wreck it.’

Ann added: ‘One of our neighbours has a son at the school, but we contacted them and they said he was fine.

‘We just rang to ask if all was well, and she said he was home from school.

‘Nothing like this has ever happened before. I think it will take a long time for people to get over this. This is a nice, quiet area of Wimbledon.’

The vehicle crashed into Wilberforce House, a separate building which is used to teach children from Reception to Year 3, ranging from four to eight years old.  

The £16k-a-year Study Prep school in Wimbledon ‘fosters a genuine love of learning’ and has ‘lovely staff’, reviews say

The school at the centre of a major incident on Thursday is ‘much-admired’ by parents and ‘fosters a genuine love of learning’. 

According to the Good Schools Guide, The Study Prep is an independent school for girls aged 4 to 11. 

It teaches 320 pupils and its curriculum has been described as ‘magical’ and ‘creative’ by parents. 

It costs £15,825 per year to send a student there. 

In a review The Good Schools Guide said: ‘Much-admired creative curriculum is ‘magical’, say parents. 

‘Topics like the Arctic, kids in space, dragons and knights are introduced with an ooh and aah moment.’ 

One former pupil at the school told LBC News: ‘Beautiful staff, lovely caring team…

‘The staff are really nice. If you go and see the school, opposite is right on the Common, and you would come out for field days. Really great school.’

The road on which the school is located has a 20mph speed limit, which is clearly marked with signs and barely wide enough for two cars to pass each other. 

Ms Kelland said at the press conference today: ‘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.’

She added that the arrested woman remained in custody this afternoon.

A statement from the 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 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.’

And Chief Paramedic Dr John Martin from the London Ambulance Service told reporters: ‘At 9.54 we received a 999 call to a collision on Camp Road in Wimbledon.

‘We dispatched multiple resources including specialist critical care paramedics, London’s air ambulance and 15 ambulances. We declared a major incident. We treated 16 patients on scene. Sadly, as we’ve heard, one eight-year-old girl died.’

Earlier, the Metropolitan Police said the motorist ‘stopped at the scene’, and an investigation to understand the ‘full circumstances’ was underway. 

The chairman of the board of governors at the Study Prep School said the community was ‘profoundly affected’ by the tragedy.

During a press conference, John Tucker said: ‘As you’ll perhaps appreciate, the school community is profoundly affected by this tragedy’.

Mr Tucker declined comment further as he stood beside the school’s head mistress Helen Lowe, who was holding hands with head mistress-elect Sharon Maher.

On Thursday evening the Land Rover was removed from the school grounds. The car, covered in a green tarpaulin, was loaded on a police truck and driven away past broken and bent metal railings.

The police cordon outside the school has been reduced, allowing more access to Wimbledon Common.

Flowers have also been placed near the school by New Malden residents Sophia Graham, 27, and Tayla Landsberg, 22, who said: ‘When we found out one of the kids had died it was awful.

‘When the police made their announcement it was so sad to see even them get emotional. It’s made a big impact on everyone.

‘Kids walk in the Common freely without thinking about it.’

Ms Landsberg said: ‘It’s usually very peaceful, very bubbly with lots of fun activities going on.’

Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Superintendent Clair Kelland appeared emotional as she spoke to the media today

Metropolitan Police Detective Chief Superintendent Clair Kelland appeared emotional as she spoke to the media today

Police officers investigate after the car crashed into a school building in Wimbledon today

Police officers investigate after the car crashed into a school building in Wimbledon today

Local residents said they feared there had been a terror attack as emergency vehicles converged on the scene (a view of the Land Rover that crashed into the school)

Local residents said they feared there had been a terror attack as emergency vehicles converged on the scene (a view of the Land Rover that crashed into the school) 

The driver is believed to have been a woman who suffered a 'medical incident' today

The driver is believed to have been a woman who suffered a ‘medical incident’ today

Downing Street said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s thoughts were with the family of the girl who died in the ‘terrifying’ incident.

The spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister’s deepest condolences are with the family of the girl who has tragically lost her life. His thoughts are with all those injured and involved in the horrific collision in Wimbledon this morning.

‘This will have been a terrifying experience for all of the children, staff and parents.’

A local resident told MailOnline that he was told a woman had suffered a seizure before crashing. It is believed she was leaving the nearby Royal Wimbledon Golf Club when the accident took place.

Worried parents rushed to the school and one couple were seen escorting their daughter, who was wearing a blue school uniform dress, to their car.

At least 20 ambulances were at the scene with the road leading to the school closed off by a police cordon.

St George’s NHS Trust in Tooting, which is about four miles away from the school, told BBC News that staff had received ‘a number of patients’ in connection with the incident, who were being ‘cared for by our specialist clinical teams’. 

Local residents said they feared there had been a terror attack as emergency vehicles converged on the scene.

One who lives nearby told the Evening Standard: ‘I was told there was an end of term party when the car careered the school. Everyone is extremely shaken up.’

Another added: ‘I heard a bang and scaping metal, it was like a bomb going off.’

A parent of a former pupil at The Study Prep school said the fatal crash had made him ‘very emotional’.

The man, who did not want to be named, said his daughter left the school two years ago and that it is ‘a really nice, small friendly place’.

He said: ‘It’s unbelievable. I heard about it this morning, it’s terribly sad. I just feel very emotional. It’s a good school. It’s not really an academic boiler house, it’s a really nice, balanced school.

‘It upsets me. The building that was crashed into is a new building, I think it’s only been there for about a year.’

One witness outside the school said parents had collected their children, with some described as ‘distraught’.

Zac Powell 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.

‘There was quite a lot of damage I could see. Even from a distance. Within 15 minutes of my arrival there were armed police response units here at the scene.’

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: ‘All of us I’m sure will have [those affected] in our thoughts and prayers, and not just any family that may be bereaved, but [the] families of those who are injured.

Police officers set up cordon line after the incident in South West London this morning

Police officers set up cordon line after the incident in South West London this morning

Police officers at the cordon after the horror crash in Wimbledon just before 10am today

Police officers at the cordon after the horror crash in Wimbledon just before 10am today

A firefighter is seen at the scene of the horror crash in Wimbledon this morning

A firefighter is seen at the scene of the horror crash in Wimbledon this morning 

‘My team has been reaching out to all the various emergency services, and the local community, whilst I’ve been here, to make sure they get all the support they need.’

Full police statement on Wimbledon crash 

Here is the latest Metropolitan Police statement, issued at 2.18pm today: 

‘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.

Detective Chief Superintendent Clair Kelland, local police commander for south west London, said: ‘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.’

‘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.

‘Police were called at 09:54hrs on Thursday, 6 July to reports that a car had collided with a building at The Study Prep, a school in Camp Road, Wimbledon.

‘Officers attended, along with paramedics from the London Ambulance Service and London’s Air Ambulance.

‘There have been further injuries and we await an update from the London Ambulance Service.

‘The driver of the vehicle stopped at the scene. We are not treating this incident as terror related.’

And Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: ‘I am 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.’

The Secretary of State for Education, Gillian Keegan MP, tweeted: ‘I am deeply concerned by reports of an incident at a primary school in Wimbledon this morning. 

‘My thoughts are with families, staff and the community involved and I am hugely grateful for the fast action of the emergency services who are currently at the scene.’ 

Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper tweeted: ‘Thinking of all the families, pupils and staff affected by the terrible incident at a primary school in Wimbledon this morning. Thank you to the emergency services on site for their swift response.’

One resident said he received an email from the Royal Wimbledon Golf Club telling him not to come near the course.

He told MailOnline: ‘With the Wimbledon tennis taking place the first thought when you see so many police cars and ambulances that there is some sort of attack.

‘The way the country is at the moment with all the oil protests on the streets you never know what is going on. I’ve never seen so many police here and when there are that many you think it’s terror related.’

Almost three hours after the incident ambulances began to leave along with several fire crews.

One former pupil at the school told LBC News: ‘Beautiful staff, lovely caring team. When you’re that age, everyone’s a mother to you.

‘The staff are really nice. If you go and see the school, opposite is right on the Common, and you would come out for field days. Really great school.’

Wimbledon resident Julie Atwood said: ‘My daughter used to go to this school. It’s a girls’ school. Wimbledon is like a little village. For this to happen in Wimbledon is unheard of. It’s terrible.’

Pictures show outdoor tables and chairs next to the crashed vehicle in Wimbledon today

Pictures show outdoor tables and chairs next to the crashed vehicle in Wimbledon today

Police and emergency services attend the scene of the car crash in Wimbledon this morning

Police and emergency services attend the scene of the car crash in Wimbledon this morning

An air ambulance is seen arriving near Camp Road in Wimbledon this morning

An air ambulance is seen arriving near Camp Road in Wimbledon this morning

Speaking to the PA news agency, Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond said: 'Since being declared by the local police a major incident, you've seen that we've had fire, air ambulance, ambulance and police on the scene'

Speaking to the PA news agency, Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond said: ‘Since being declared by the local police a major incident, you’ve seen that we’ve had fire, air ambulance, ambulance and police on the scene’ 

Former Scotland Yard detective superintendent Shabnam Chaudhri told Sky News: ‘I think the good thing is that the response has been so big because they would have had additional resources already at Wimbledon because of the Just Stop Oil potential issues that they may have faced there. 

What MPs have said about Wimbledon school tragedy 

‘I am 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.’

Suella Braverman, Home Secretary

‘I am deeply concerned by reports of an incident at a primary school in Wimbledon this morning. My thoughts are with families, staff and the community involved and I am hugely grateful for the fast action of the emergency services who are currently at the scene.’

Gillian Keegan, Education Secretary

‘Thinking of all the families, pupils and staff affected by the terrible incident at a primary school in Wimbledon this morning. Thank you to the emergency services on site for their swift response.’

Yvette Cooper, shadow home secretary

‘Very concerned to hear about the Study Preparatory School at Camp Road this morning. A major incident has been declared and I know all emergency services are on site. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone at The Study.’

Stephen Hammond, Wimbledon MP

‘I am heartbroken to hear of the incident at The Study School in Wimbledon. My thoughts and prayers are with the families and entire school community. Thank you to our emergency services who are attending the incident.’

Fleur Anderson, Putney MP

‘Horrified to hear about the incident at a primary school in Wimbledon this morning. My thoughts are with the children and families involved and grateful for the emergency services responding on the scene.’

Claire Coutinho, Education Minister

‘Shocked to hear about the tragic incident at The Study Prep School in Wimbledon this morning. My thoughts and prayers are with the pupils, staff and their families.’

Munira Wilson, Twickenham MP

‘So they would have had more resources in the area deployed to that particular location, so they would have redeployed to here, and that’s why the response has been so quick.’

And former Metropolitan Police chief superintendent Dal Babu also told Sky News: ‘There appears to be some mats there on the grass area and tables there, so I don’t know if it was an event going on outside, which would obviously make the children more vulnerable.’ 

The Conservative MP for Wimbledon, Stephen Hammond, told PA: ‘Since being declared by the local police a major incident, you’ve seen that we’ve had fire, air ambulance, ambulance and police on the scene.

‘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 that the school is a ‘very well-known and family-based school’.

‘It’s a local prep school having girls between the ages of four and eight,’ Mr Hammond said.

The Conservative MP said where the school is located ‘generally will be regarded as an area where you wouldn’t see very much speeding’.

He added later: ‘It was very clear, very quickly, that it was a major incident and the local police declared it just that.

‘I think you will have seen by the sheer scale of the response from the paramedics, air ambulance, fire brigade and the police what an important and serious incident this is.

‘And what a sad incident – it is tragically on the last day of term, for this young girl to have lost her life.

‘This is a well-liked, well-respected, well-known school.

‘Most of the children who go here will be Wimbledon families, and this will cause shock across the whole of the local community.’

The London Air Ambulance earlier told the BBC that ‘a fair amount of resources’ were called to the area, including ‘response officers’ and a ‘hazardous area response unit’. 

The school is an all girls institution which costs £16,000-a-year per student. Members of the public have been asked to stay away from the crash site to let emergency services have full access.

The Air Ambulance is ‘still trying to get casualties out’ almost two hours after the crash, reports local Riverside Radio, with some of those injured believed to have been inside the building at the time of the collision. 

A guest at a nearby hotel said she spoke to an eye witness, telling the Evening Standard: ‘He said a car just ploughed into the school and it didn’t look good. It’s so sad.’ 

BBC London reporter Helen Hoddinott, reporting from the scene, said: ‘There is a cordon that’s been put up at the end of the road here. As you look back across the Common, there are about 20 ambulances that are all lined up.

‘But actually within the cordon itself, there are only a couple of ambulances with their lights flashing. There has been an enormous emergency response but there’s a sense of quiet here.

‘A few minutes ago a little girl actually walked along that road, she was being supported by both of her parents. She wasn’t wearing any shoes, she was just in her socks. And her dad was also missing a shoe and one of his socks as well. They came out of the cordon and have since disappeared. It’s difficult to know at the moment to get a sense of what happened here this morning.’

A guest at a nearby hotel said she spoke to an eye witness, telling the Evening Standard : 'He said a car just ploughed into the school and it didn't look good. It's so sad'

A guest at a nearby hotel said she spoke to an eye witness, telling the Evening Standard : ‘He said a car just ploughed into the school and it didn’t look good. It’s so sad’ 

Sky News' Jacquie Beltrao, who is at the scene, said: 'This is a very small road just off Wimbledon common. Its really narrow and very quiet. I can see about eight ambulances'

Sky News’ Jacquie Beltrao, who is at the scene, said: ‘This is a very small road just off Wimbledon common. Its really narrow and very quiet. I can see about eight ambulances’ 

Sky News’ Jacquie Beltrao, who is also at the scene, said: ‘This is a very small road just off Wimbledon Common. Its really narrow and very quiet. I can see about eight ambulances.

‘A police officer said that he believes the incident was caused by an out-of control car. The roads all around the common have been closed off and there are lots of what look like parents standing around me.

‘It is difficult to know exactly what has happened, but we do know there are casualties and they are being taken to hospital.’

Mr Hammond said he was ‘very concerned’, adding: ‘A major incident has been declared and I know all emergency services are on site. My thoughts and prayers go out to everyone at The Study.’

He earlier told BBC Radio London: ‘It’s obviously extremely distressing and extremely concerning. I’ve just spoken to the local police, they are in attendance as are both air and paramedics.

‘There are a number of casualties, I’m not clear how many. I know the area well, obviously. 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.’

Police officers cordon off Camp Road in Wimbledon after a Land Rover collided with a school building on Thursday

Police officers cordon off Camp Road in Wimbledon after a Land Rover collided with a school building on Thursday 

Multiple ambulances are seen on Camp Road in Wimbledon on Thursday morning

Multiple ambulances are seen on Camp Road in Wimbledon on Thursday morning 

Mr Hammond said the road is ‘quite tight’ meaning people ‘have to stop and let each other past.’  

He said it’s ‘right on the corner of the common’ next to the Wimbledon Common Golf Club.

He explained: ‘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.

A major emergency response is underway in Wimbledon after a Land Rover crashed into a primary school this morning, leaving 'several people hurt.' (scene pictured)

A major emergency response is underway in Wimbledon after a Land Rover crashed into a primary school this morning, leaving ‘several people hurt.’ (scene pictured) 

Dozens of officers and emergency workers remain at the scene near Wimbledon Common

Dozens of officers and emergency workers remain at the scene near Wimbledon Common 

The London Air Ambulance told the BBC that emergency services have sent 'a fair amount of resources to the scene', including 'response officers' and a 'hazardous area response unit'

The London Air Ambulance told the BBC that emergency services have sent ‘a fair amount of resources to the scene’, including ‘response officers’ and a ‘hazardous area response unit’

A fire truck and an ambulance are seen near the scene of a 'serious collision' in Wimbledon

A fire truck and an ambulance are seen near the scene of a ‘serious collision’ in Wimbledon 

‘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.’

Mr Hammond said he did not ‘want to speculate’ on how the accident happened because he ‘doesn’t know’. 

He added: ‘But it’s quite a difficult road, because there’s usually parking, because it’s quite difficult to pass, you normally have to stop to let someone pass. So normally people don’t build up speed, it’s in a 20mph zone anyway.

‘If you’d said another road in Wimbledon, I could quite easily understand that some people would be going at the wrong speed, an illegal speed.

‘But this is a road where it’s really quite difficult to do that in as well. Doesn’t happen very often to my knowledge, partly because it’s a tight road, difficult to pass.’

Police, firefighters and tactical units were called to the scene of a 'serious collision' at The Study Prep school on Camp Road at just before 10am.

Police, firefighters and tactical units were called to the scene of a ‘serious collision’ at The Study Prep school on Camp Road at just before 10am.

The Study Prep school (pictured) is an all girls institution which costs £16,000-a-year per student

The Study Prep school (pictured) is an all girls institution which costs £16,000-a-year per student

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said: ‘A statement said: ‘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.

‘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

‘There have been further injuries and we await an update from the London Ambulance Service.’

Detective Chief Superintendent Clair Kelland, local police commander for south-west London, said: ‘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.’

London Fire Brigade said on Twitter: ‘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.’ 

Tweets from Wimbledon and Putney Commons urged the public to stay away from the area.

They said: ‘Following an incident at the edge of the Common on Camp Road, the public are asked to avoid that area of the Commons to allow free access to the emergency services. Thank you.

‘Emergency vehicles are likely to be using the Commons to get to the location so please be alert to what is happening and follow instructions from our staff. Thank you.’

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