London

Penge crash victim Makayah McDermott was 'bright star'

Makayah McDermott. Image copyright Oli Regan
Image caption Makayah McDermott was described as "a bright star with a bright future"

An aspiring child actor who died with his aunt when they were a hit by a car being pursued by police has been called "a bright star with a bright future".

Makayah McDermott and Rozanne Cooper died after the car crashed in Penge, south-east London on Wednesday.

Sam Brown, the managing director of his acting agency, described Makayah as "an extremely talented young actor."

Friend Samantha Dobson called Ms Cooper "one of the kindest, most beautiful, caring people you would ever meet".

A 23-year-old man was arrested at the scene and remains in custody.

Three girls were also treated for non-life threatening injuries.

More updates on this and other London stories

Image caption Rosie Cooper was Makayah McDermott's aunt

The Met said the young girls, two aged 13 and one aged eight, were related to Makayah and his aunt, who was a 34-year-old hairdresser.

Post-mortem examinations are due to take place at Princess Royal Hospital.

Makayah had recently auditioned for a part in a television series.

Ms Brown, managing director of the Brown and Mills agency, said: "We are deeply saddened and in shock following the devastating news that Makayah McDermott has lost his life after yesterdays tragic events.

"Makayah was an extremely talented young actor and a joy to be around.

"He had recently auditioned for a role in a new TV series and had been seen for a number of TV commercials. Makayah was a bright young star who had a strong passion and talent for acting.

"We cannot express enough our sadness and our thoughts are with the family at this terrible time."

Image copyright PA
Image caption People leave flowers and tributes at the scene of the crash in Penge
Image copyright PA

A victim support fund for those injured in the crash on the Gofundme website had raised more than £3,000 by Thursday afternoon.

Family friend Emma Cameron called the news "devastating" and said Ms Cooper was "a genuinely lovely girl".

"She never had a bad word to say about anybody she was the kindest friendliest warmest person. It's just awful," she added.

'Such a waste'

Ms Dobson placed a floral tribute to her friend and a card at the scene of the crash.

"Her life was her family and her daughter," she said. "Her unit was her mum, her sister and her nieces and nephews.

"It is just such a waste of life. It is just a case of being totally in the wrong place at the wrong time. It just seems such a waste."

One witness said the car was being chased by two police vehicles when the driver "lost control and ploughed into a family".

The car, which is suspected to have been stolen, struck the group at about 14:05 BST on Lennard Road. It had been pursued by police from nearby Birkbeck Road in Beckenham.

Venissa Vassell described about 20 people lifting the car to free the girls.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption"They were all trapped under the car" - Richard Galpin reports

One girl, who was taken away by ambulance, was screaming "I can't feel my legs", Ms Vassell said.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating.

Over the past 10 years, 252 members of the public have died following road traffic incidents involving the police in England and Wales, according to the IPCC.

In London there were 498 crashes involving a pursuit by Met officers in 2015-16.

Image copyright Venisha Sudra
Image caption Ambulance crews and the air ambulance attended the scene

Former Metropolitan Police detective chief inspector Peter Kirkham told BBC Radio London the way to avoid such incidents was to introduce tougher penalties for evading the police.

Mr Kirkham said vehicle pursuits were often a "no win situation" for the police officers involved.

He said the main consideration of police offices involved in pursuits was public safety.

The "primary responsibility" for those hurt as a result of a police chase lay with the driver who had failed to stop, Mr Kirkham said.

The current penalty for failing to stop for police is an unlimited fine, according to the Sentencing Council, but the former police officer said most cases were treated "really leniently" by the courts.

"If we're going to say we don't want the police to pursue [suspects] then we're going to have to put the responsibility back on the driver and invent a new offence of engaging the police in a vehicle pursuit, with a minimum sentence of five years and a lifetime ban from the roads and a maximum sentence of life if they need it," he said.

Image copyright Shulem Stern
Image caption The police watchdog is investigating what happened

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites