The ‘devastated’ family of a 12-year-old boy killed in a hit-and-run crash have paid tribute to their ‘lovely boy’.
Harley Watson was killed in a crash outside Debden Park High School, Essex at 3.20pm on Monday in which four teenagers, also thought to be pupils at the school, and a 23-year-old, were also injured.
Essex Police later arrested a 51-year-old man, from Loughton, who was in his car in a pub car park when he was detained, it emerged today.
The man is also being held on six counts of attempted murder and one of causing death by dangerous driving. The arrest came after police earlier said they were searching for Loughton man Terry Glover over the incident.
The family of Harley this evening paid tribute to their child, for whom a GoFundMe page has been set up raising more than £18,000 in just four hours.
In a statement released through Essex Police, the family said: ‘We are so devastated by what has happened. Harley was a good, kind, helpful and lovely boy.
‘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.’
Essex Police said it has referred itself to the Independent Office for Police Conduct ‘based on previous contact between the force and the 51-year-old man arrested on suspicion of murder and other offences in connection [with the crash]’.
A spokesman for the IOPC said: ‘We continue to have a team of detectives working tirelessly to establish the circumstances surrounding the tragic events which unfolded yesterday and we are supporting the families of all those involved.’
Tributes have been paid to victim Harley Watson today on social media
The pupil, named locally as Harley Watson (left), was killed when a car mounted the pavement near Debden Park High School in Loughton yesterday afternoon. Essex Police said in a statement a 51-year-old Loughton man has been arrested on six counts of attempted murder and one of causing death by dangerous driving. The arrest came after police said they were searching for Terry Glover, 51, (right) over the incident
A map showing the location of Debden Park School, the raid on Terry Glover’s house, and where there were reports of a car fire last night. Police are also looking in to a connection to a similar incident, reported to be at Roding Valley High School, earlier in the day
The victim in the incident has been named locally as Harley Watson, who is 12-years-old
A GoFundMe page for the family of Harley has now raised more than £16,500 – just four hours after it was set up by Jenni Ward, a member of the local community.
‘Christmas can be a very tough time for many people for many reasons, she writes. ‘But to have to deal with everything following this incident in the lead up to Christmas will be extremely challenging for Harleys parents.
‘So we have set up this GoFund me page to help fund any funeral expenses for Harley’s parents and family to try and relieve some pressure.
‘If we as a community can help by taking this financial burden off them at this heartbreaking time, it’s the least we can do.’
Police are also investigating reports the vehicle involved in the crash was seen outside Roding Valley High School, Loughton, Essex, at 3.10pm, minutes before it ploughed into students at nearby Debden Park School.
Hundreds of children were leaving lessons at the end of the day when the car hurtled towards them at 3.20pm. The crash flung girls and boys into the air, while others managed to leap out of the way.
One of the youngsters hurt in the crash told the BBC he heard a car ‘revving’ behind him before it sped on to the pavement. The boy said he believed the incident was deliberate.
Residents near Roding Valley High School reported seeing a car which matched the description of the one used in the hit and run, and claimed it had been aiming at pupils and mounted a pavement.
The school’s headteacher said: ‘The police are appealing for further information and I can confirm that we have been made aware from several of our students that a car, similar in description was seen in Brook Road, Loughton, at about 3:10pm. We have reported this sighting to the police to support the ongoing investigation.’
DCI Rob Kirby, senior investigating officer, said their investigations ‘have led us to establish that there may be connections between that incident and the one which has led us to establish a murder investigation.
‘I am appealing for anyone who witnessed that incident to contact my team. I would also like to hear from anyone who saw a silver Ford KA travelling through Loughton between 2.40pm and 3.45pm yesterday to contact us,’ he said.
Today, staff at the Merry Fiddler, in the village of Fiddler’s Hamlet, near Epping, Essex, told how they were locking up when they saw a car matching the description of the one used in the hit and run in the car park.
Floral bouquets left near the entrance to Debden Park High School, in Willingale Road, Loughton, Essex
Pupils at the school have been laying floral tributes to the Harley Watson
Police at the scene near Debden Park High School in Loughton, Essex this morning
Armed police stand guard outside a house in Loughton believed to belong to the suspect
Roy James, 68, whose son is the pub’s landlord, said: ‘All the windows were steamed up and it looked like the bloke was asleep but we didn’t know how long it had been there for.
‘We saw it from the pub. We didn’t go outside. We didn’t get a look at the bloke, we just watched the car from the pub window.
‘We have no idea how long he was there for. This was about 10pm when we notified the police.
‘The hit-and-run happened ten minutes up the road. He could have sped straight from there.
Tributes have been paid on social media to Harley, who was remembered as ‘caring’ and ‘would never hurt anyone.’
One message read: ‘Today my little mate Harley sadly was involved in a devastated accident which has killed him.
‘I know Harley did not deserve any of this because he was a caring boy and would never hurt anyone so everyone please make all your family members that drive a car, to please be careful on the roads.’
He added: ‘Our hearts as praying with Harley’s family.’
Another said: ‘He never deserved this and was one of the nicest kids I knew. ‘[He] was one of the happiest and nicest kids I knew … and can’t think what his family and friends are going through.
‘This world is so cruel you don’t know when bad things are going to happen. ‘Always loved and was always the one to put a smile on everyone’s face. I don’t know what I’m gonna do without u little man but fly high Harley RIP.’
Police officers today continued to scour the street for evidence
Devastated pupils lay floral tributes near to the scene today
Floral tributes have been left outside Debden Park High School in Loughton after the death of the pupil, named locally as Harley Watson
One tribute left today read: ‘Our deepest condolences for the loss of such a young boy, May he rest in peace’
Police outside a property in Loughton, Essex, after a 51-year-old man remains in police custody on suspicion of murder
And a third said: ‘Fly high Harley. It’s such a shame that it had to be you, you always put a smile on my face and school won’t be the same without you man.
‘Rest in perfect paradise.’
A gofundme page has also been set up to raise money for Harley’s family to pay for funeral costs.
One father, whose daughter was hit by the car, told Essex Live: ‘A Ford KA mounted the pavement behind her.
‘Her friend was bounced onto the bonnet before another boy was hit very bad.
‘The car drove off down the road and the police arrived quickly.
Tributes have continued to arrive throughout the morning near to the scene of the tragedy
Another tribute read: ‘Dear Harley. I will miss you so much! Forever be in our hearts. Fly High’
A message written on a football among the sea of floral tributes read: ‘Sleep tight little man. Little man with a big heart’
The scene in Loughton today as a police cordon remains in place as they carry out their investigations
‘My daughter is safe, but the wing mirror clipped my daughter. Her friend got thrown off the bonnet. It was awful to witness. Everyone is in shock.’
Officers began a manhunt as they tried to trace a silver Ford Ka, with the registration LS08 OKW, which is believed to have been damaged in the crash in Willingale Road.
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’.
She told the BBC: ‘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.
‘It was a bit scary, very scary for him.
‘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.’
Today, staff at the Merry Fiddler, in the village of Fiddler’s Hamlet, near Epping, Essex, told how they were locking up when they saw a car matching the description of the one used in the hit and run in the car park
Head teacher Helen Gascoyne said that Debden Park school had been ‘devastated’ by the death of one of its students and that pupils would be offered counselling today.
Debden Park school executive head Christian Cavanagh said today: ‘On behalf of the School and the Trust we send our heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of this young man.
‘A young life so tragically lost. 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.’
Chief Superintendent Tracey Harman said today: ‘The events of yesterday in Willingale Road have seen trauma and distress brought to the community in Loughton after a 12-year-old boy was killed and a number of people injured following a collision with a car.
‘I have seen first-hand the impact this incident has had locally and we continue to progress this live investigation which has seen a 51-year-old man arrested on suspicion of a number of offences including murder.
‘We are examining a number of enquiries, including where there has been previous contact between Essex Police and the man we have arrested. I would continue to urge anyone who has any information, please come forward and speak to us.’
Police were called to the incident near Debden High School, on Willingale Road, yesterday afternoon (pictured)
Police were called to the scene shortly after the end of the school day, at around 3.20pm on Monday.
East of England Ambulance Service sent 15 ambulances and 10 other vehicles, while three air ambulances were mobilised.
Two 15-year-old boys, a 13-year-old boy, a 16-year-old girl and the 23-year-old woman were also hurt.
Essex Police said they were treated at the scene or in hospital, and their injuries were not believed to be life-changing or life-threatening.
Emergency services are on the scene in Willingale Road, in Loughton this evening
Detective Chief Inspector Rob Kirby said: ‘This has been a truly shocking incident and my deepest sympathies are with all those involved.
‘I would like to thank the many members of the public who have called us with information and spoken to our officers, as well as those who provided crucial medical assistance at the scene.
‘I would urge anyone with information, dashcam footage, or who may have seen anything on social media that they think could be crucial to call us on 101 and quote incident number 726 of 2 December.’
Debden Park is a mixed academy school for pupils aged 11 to 18, which specialises in the performing arts and received a rating of ‘outstanding’ in its most recent Ofsted inspection, according to its prospectus.
Forensic Officers in Willingdale Road near Debden Park High School, in Loughton, Essex, after a murder investigation was launched
A statement from Ms Gascoyne said: ‘As a school and a community we are devastated to say that as a result of the incident in Willingale Road this afternoon, it is with great sadness that we must report that a 12-year-old student from our school has sadly died.
‘Our thoughts are with the family and all those affected. As a school we continue to work with the police supporting the ongoing investigation.
‘The school will be open tomorrow with a number of counsellors on hand to support our community.’
A police cordon remained in place along Willingale Road on Monday night manned by uniformed officers.
Police officers carry out a raid on a house in Loughton, believed to belong to Terry Glover
Emergency services at the scene yesterday evening after the tragic death of a 12-year-old boy
The cordon began metres from the entrance to the school, near the junction of Jessel Drive, and an officer was going door to door in the streets nearby.
Armed police could be seen outside a home on the corner of Newmans Lane and Hatfields in Loughton, where neighbours said Glover lived alone.
No lights were on in the property but two armed officers were stationed outside while a marked squad car was parked in the road.
The arrested man also faces charges including causing serious injury by driving, failing to stop at the scene of a collision and driving without insurance.
The scene near Debden Park High School, in Loughton, Essex, after a murder investigation was launched after a 12-year-old boy was killed when a car crashed into children