Police have described what happened in a press conference in Wimbledon today, Steve Bird and Michael Murphy report.
A senior detective choked back tears as she revealed that an eight-year-old girl had been killed after a Land Rover careered off the road and crashed into an exclusive London prep-school.
Hinting at the horrific scenes police, fire crews and paramedics encountered at the Wimbledon all girls schools, Detective Chief Superintendent Clair Kelland said emergency staff began immediately treating 16 patients, 10 of whom were so severely injured they were rushed to hospital.
A woman, in her 40s, has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving after the collision at The Study Preparatory School on Thursday morning. Police refused to say whether she was among the injured, however they confirmed she remained in police custody on Thursday night.
It is believed the motorist had been travelling back from the Royal Wimbledon Golf Club on Camp Road which has a 20mph speed limit.
Aerial photographs showed what appeared to be a black and gold Land Rover New Defender, which costs at least £60,000, smashed into the school building.
Local residents said the school was having an end of term tea party for Year Three pupils, aged eight. It is understood some parents had attended the party.
Ms Kelland’s voice broke as she struggled to maintain her composure as she told a press conference at the scene: “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.”
The chairman of the board of governors, John Tucker, said the local community was “profoundly affected” by the “tragedy”.
He declined to comment further as he stood beside the school’s headteacher Helen Lowe, who was holding hands with headteacher-elect Sharon Maher.
Ms Kelland, the policing commander for South West London, described the event as “tragic”, adding how police were called at 9.54am to reports that a car had collided with the South West London school.
Officers attended, along with paramedics from the London Ambulance Service and London’s Air Ambulance.
She said the motorists stopped at the scene and the incident was not being treated as terrorist related.
Dr John Martin, the Chief Paramedic for the London Ambulance Service, said a total of 16 people were treated
He said: “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.”
Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond, whose daughter previously attended the school, said several of those hurt were “critically injured”.
He said: “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.”
A police cordon was set up around the school, on a street near Wimbledon Common where house prices often exceed £2 million.