Manchester

Serena Harding suspected drug overdose: Five arrests

Serena Harding
Image caption Serena Harding was days away from her 17th birthday

Five people have been arrested after a 16-year-old girl died from a suspected drug overdose in Greater Manchester.

Police were called to Reddish Vale Country Park, in Stockport, at 22:50 BST on Sunday.

They found Serena Harding, from Rixton, Warrington, who was unconscious. She was taken to Stepping Hill Hospital but pronounced dead shortly afterwards.

Four men, aged from 18 to 20, and a 25-year-old woman are being held on suspicion of drugs offences.

'Girly girl'

Miss Harding's parents, Diane and Kenneth, said they had no knowledge of their daughter, who had Crohn's disease, taking any drugs.

In a statement, they said: "She was especially looking forward to her birthday this Saturday - she had planned a Chinese meal with her friends who were going to have a sleep-over and have a girls' night in; Serena was very much a girly girl.

"She was currently saving and looking for a job as she wanted to go on a college trip to New York.

"She was a very thoughtful and kind sister. She was very affectionate and would be happy to come and give you a cuddle.

"To our knowledge, she had never before taken drugs and this has come as a great shock to everyone who knew her.

"She will be missed so much. We feel there is a huge hole in our lives that can never be filled and cannot believe that she's just not there any more.

"We want to thank the young couple who stopped to help her when she collapsed and all the people who tried to save her."

'Say no'

Ch Insp Mark Hussey said: "The full circumstances of the teenager's death have not yet been established, however, we believe she may have taken a controlled substance.

"At this stage, we are unsure what substance she may have taken and we are awaiting results from further tests to see whether she died as a result of taking this substance."

He urged anyone with any information to contact Greater Manchester Police.

He added: "At this time of year, with GCSE and A-level results due, many young people will be in celebratory spirit and there will no doubt be many parties being held where there may be opportunities for them to experiment with drugs and alcohol.

"I would like to remind them to be mindful of the potentially fatal and damaging effects taking drugs can have and to say no if they are offered to them."

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