Driver arrested after crash leaves schoolgirl Liberty Baker, 14, dead and two others hurt (From Witney Gazette)
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Driver arrested after crash leaves schoolgirl Liberty Baker, 14, dead and two others hurt
THE schoolgirl killed in a crash on her way to school yesterday was named locally as 14-year-old Liberty Baker.
Three other people were taken to hospital after the crash, in Curbridge Road, Witney, which happened at 8am when a Citroen car mounted the kerb, hitting a male pedestrian, Henry Box School pupil Liberty and two other girls.
Passers-by stopped to try to help the injured and witnesses described a scene of chaos in the wake of the crash.
Liberty was taken by ambulance to the John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford, where she was later pronounced dead.
Two other 14-year-old girls and a man were also taken to hospital. The male victim is believed to have suffered a broken hip, one girl had minor injuries and the other was not hurt but admitted as a precaution.
- Ambulance crews and police at the scene yesterday
The 18-year-old car driver was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and was last night being questioned by police before he was released on police bail.
Curbridge Road resident Stuart Green, 62, saw the immediate aftermath of the collision.
He said: “My plan for today was to paint the gate and as I was coming up here [to the top of his driveway] I looked up and saw the accident.
“There was a girl who was unconscious and people were seeing to her. There was another lady sort of looking after the bloke who was getting out of his car [the vehicle involved in the accident] and he was just saying: ‘Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god’. There was nothing I could do to help.”
Inspector Paul Winks, of Thames Valley Police’s joint operations unit, said: “This is a truly horrific incident.
“The driver has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and will be interviewed by police.
“Specialist family liaison officers will be talking to the family of the schoolgirl who was killed.
“I would appeal to anybody who has any information or witnessed this collision to call police on 101.”
Wendy Hemminglsey, headteacher of The Henry Box School in Church Green, said: “With deep regret I have to report that a Year Nine student was involved in a fatal traffic incident.
“The school community is deeply saddened by this news and our thoughts are with her family and friends at this difficult time.”
Flowers were yesterday laid at the scene of the accident and Henry Box’s Year 11 school prom, scheduled for last night, was cancelled.
John Webb, 51, of Curbridge Road, said: “It was chaos. There were cars, ambulances and the air ambulance.
“No-one could get through and there were people everywhere.
“All I could see was a gentleman on the floor and two ambulances dealing with the young girls.”
Among those laying flowers was Stephen Knipe, 45, whose daughter was in the same year as Miss Baker at The Henry Box School.
He said: “My daughter was in the same year as Liberty at school and had the same classes and she was very distraught about it.
“She’s come up now and dropped some flowers off with her friends and to talk about it.
- Floral tribures left by residents
“I heard about the accident on the news this morning and when I heard a 14-year-old girl had been injured I phoned my daughter to make sure she was okay.
“She was quite emotional when I picked her up from school and she’s had her friends round with her most of the day.
“It is a close community, there’s only so many primary schools and they all go to the one secondary school.
“It’s a very sad day.”
The Southern Central Ambulance Service sent three ambulance, two ambulance officers, the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance, and a doctor to treat the victims.
The doctor accompanied Miss Baker in one ambulance to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital, in Headley Way, where she was pronounced dead.
Some witnesses and motorists stopped to give the victims first aid before paramedics arrived.
Sian Brook, 31, of Carr Avenue, Carterton, was on her way to work when she stopped to help.
She said the injured man was the partner of her work colleague at the estate agent Finders Keepers, in Witney.
She said: “I pulled up and there were people on the floor. I don’t know where the car came from.
“It was chaos. He was in a lot of pain. I think he had seriously broken his leg, and people were giving CPR to the young girl.
“I held the gas and air to his mouth, but he was in a lot of pain.”
Pc Phil Hanham praised those who stopped to help.
He said: “There were witnesses at the scene straight away. We would like to thank them for all of their help at what must have been a very distressing scene.
“It would have been very distressing for the members of the public who saw or came out to help.
“I would like to thank them for their help in giving first aid.
“It is a very sad day when there are three young girls and a man in a collision with a vehicle.”
Officers from Thames Valley Police Forensic Investigation Unit, the Road Policing Unit, based in Bicester, officers and PCSOs based in Witney were also involved.
Forensic officers carried out their investigation on the badly damaged car before a truck from Witney firm Kardos Recovery removed it.
Curbridge Road was closed after the collision, which took place between Fairfield Drive and the A415 Tower Hill roundabout at Ducklington Lane.
A TOWN UNITED IN SHOCK AND GRIEF
PEOPLE in Witney told of their shock and sadness at the news of Miss Baker’s death yesterday.
Fairfield Drive resident Julie Kemp, 56, said: “I’m devastated, it has upset me tremendously.
“To think that happened to a girl going to school. I’m mortified for the family.
“I just can’t say how I feel for them, I feel for them so much.”
Curbridge Road resident, Michael Harper, 84, said: “It’s tragic. A 14-year-old has had no life have they.
“It’s tragic for the family who will have lost their daughter, it’s very sad.
“I have lived here for 38 years now and the traffic problem has got worse and worse and worse.
“It’s a hell of a job to get across the road when the traffic is flowing.”
- A message left for Liberty next to the flowers
Valerie Shurey, 62, also of Curbridge Road, said: “It’s terrible. It can be quite a busy road with the children going to school.”
Andy Ford, 43, a taxi driver who lives in Curbridge Road, said: “I take autistic kids to school and when I come up here in the morning and in the afternoon there are people racing about without a care in the world, you never see anyone’s brake lights.
“I spoke to the police about it and told them to sit on the side of the road because there is a lot of speeding on it and they should either use a speed gun or install a speed camera.”
Witney’s St Mary’s Church, in Church Green, was yesterday opened for prayers after the accident.
Curate Reverend Alastair Blaine said: “We will be here for prayer and for people to leave their own thoughts and prayers on a notice board and to light a candle.
“There will be people here as long as the church is open.”
The Prime Minister and Witney MP David Cameron appealed for witnesses to come forward. He tweeted: “My thoughts are with friends and family of the 14-year-old girl killed by a car in Witney this morning.
“Witnesses should call police on 101.”
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