An eight-year-old girl has been killed and 10 people were taken to hospital after a Land Rover crashed into a girls’ prep school building on the last day of term.
Police were called to reports of a collision at The Study Prep school in Wimbledon, south-west London, just before 10am on Thursday.
The school said in a statement that it was “profoundly shocked” by what happened.
Detective Chief Superintendent Clair Kelland fought back tears as she announced the age of the victim during a press conference outside the school on Thursday.
Chief Paramedic Dr John Martin from the London Ambulance Service said a total of 16 people were treated at The Study Preparatory School in Camp Road following the incident.
The Metropolitan Police said a woman in her 40s has been arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and remains in police custody.
Ms Kelland’s voice broke as she told reporters 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.”
Dr Martin also gave an update at the press conference, saying: “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.”
The force said the incident is not being treated as terror-related.
The school said on its website: “We are profoundly shocked by the tragic accident this morning at Wilberforce House and devastated that it has claimed the life of one of our young pupils as well as injuring several others.
“Our thoughts are with the bereaved family and with the families of those injured at this terrible time.
“It is still far too soon to fully understand what happened, but we are well aware of the significant impact this dreadful event will have on our pupils and their families.
“Their welfare remains our top priority and we will be doing everything we can to support them, especially those who suffered injuries.
“Now that a police investigation is under way we will not be making any further public statement for the time being and would ask that the privacy of our school community is respected at this deeply upsetting time.”
The chairman of the board of governors, John Tucker, said the 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.
Wimbledon MP Stephen Hammond, whose daughter previously attended the school, confirmed the eight-year-old girl died on the last day of term.
Speaking at the scene, Mr Hammond told the PA news agency: “It was very clear, very quickly, that it was a major incident and the local police declared it just that.
“I think you will have seen by the sheer scale of the response from the paramedics, air ambulance, fire brigade and the police what an important and serious incident this is.
“And what a sad incident – it is tragically on the last day of term, for this young girl to have lost her life.
“This is a well-liked, well-respected, well-known school.
“Most of the children who go here will be Wimbledon families, and this will cause shock across the whole of the local community.”
Police extended a large cordon around the school and television pictures from overhead showed the car up against the wall of the building, while firefighters and paramedics stood near a gap in the fencing at the entrance to the site.
Officers moved dog walkers and passers-by away from the scene as an air ambulance remained on the edge of the Common while a number of ambulances parked nearby.
Wimbledon resident Julie Atwood told PA: “My daughter used to go to this school. It’s a girls’ school.
“Wimbledon is like a little village. For this to happen in Wimbledon is unheard of. It’s terrible.”
Tweets from Wimbledon and Putney Commons urged the public to stay away from the area.
The school, which costs £5,565 per term, is for girls aged four to 11 and sits on Wimbledon Common, just a mile away from the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club as it hosts the world-famous tennis tournament.