Essex

Loughton hit-and-run: Family tribute to Harley Watson

Harley Watson Image copyright Essex Police
Image caption Harley Watson's family described him as a "good, kind, helpful and lovely boy"

The family of a 12-year-old boy killed in a hit-and-run near his school say they are "devastated" by his death.

Harley Watson was struck near Debden Park High School in Loughton, Essex, at about 15:20 GMT on Monday.

A 51-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of his murder, as well as the attempted murder of four teenagers and a 23-year-old woman who were hurt in the crash.

Harley's family described him as a "good, kind, helpful and lovely boy".

In a statement, they said: "We are so devastated by what has happened.

"We would like to thank everyone for their kind wishes and concern.

"However, as a family we would like people to respect our privacy and allow us to grieve in peace."

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Media captionLoughton school crash survivor 'blacked out' when hit by car

Essex Police said the 51-year-old man was arrested in a pub car park in Fiddlers Hamlet at 23:00 on Monday.

Ch Supt Tracey Harman said there "may be connections" between the crash near Debden Park High School and an earlier incident of a car mounting a pavement near Roding Valley High School in Loughton, 10 minutes before the fatal collision.

The force has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct based on "previous contact" it had had with the arrested man.

Image copyright Instagram
Image caption Harley's death has been described as a "young life so tragically lost"

It is understood all the injured children - two 15-year-old boys, a 13-year-old boy, and a girl, 16 - are pupils at the school.

Debden Park's head teacher Helen Gascoyne, said: "Our thoughts are with the family and all those affected. The school will be open [on Tuesday] with a number of counsellors on hand to support our community."

Christian Cavanagh, executive head teacher, described Harley's death as "a young life so tragically lost".

He said: "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."

'I've been hit by a car'

Donna Mills, the mother of Alfie Barnes who was one of the 15-year-olds struck by the car, said he was "still in shock... battered and bruised".

"He remembers the car coming towards him, he remembers getting hit, but it is a bit of a blur. He hit his head and I think he blacked out for a bit," she said.

"Alfie rang me and said 'mum I have been hit by a car', so I shot down there as fast as I could. It was horrendous.

"It was... horrible to see, kids laying on the floor, just terrible."

Image copyright Google
Image caption Debden Park High School opened on Tuesday for staff and pupils to support each other

Essex Police said officers are looking for a silver Ford Ka "likely to have damage to [its] front".

Earlier, the force took the step of naming Terry Glover, 51, as someone they wanted to speak to in connection with the crash.

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