A 13-year-old girl has been crushed to death by a falling branch as she played in a park.
Tragic Sophie Howard was sitting on a bench in Middletons Road Recreation Ground, Yaxley, Peterborough, Cambs., when a giant branch fell from a 50ft high tree.
Two off-duty doctors raced to her aid and attempted to save her life but the schoolgirl died after being taken by ambulance to Peterborough City Hospital.
Her devastated parents Martin and Laura revealed her twin brother Elliott is ”suffering greatly” following her death.
A family statement reads: ”Sophie was a beautiful girl who had so many friends and we will miss her with all our heart.
”She was enthusiastic at school and liked English. She loved music, especially JLS and Jessie J.
”She was an excellent runner and enjoyed running the Race for Life for charity. She was a typical girlie girl and loved socialising, make-up and fashion.
”Her friends were very important to her.
”We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our friends and family for their support at this difficult time. Sophie has a twin brother who is also suffering greatly.
”Our beloved daughter’s death was a tragic incident, which occurred only 24 hours ago, and we do not want it to be connected to any other events.”
Year-8 pupil Sophie, who is survived by her twin brother Elliott, was spending the day at home after her school Sawtry Community College closed due to industrial action.
Children dressed in their school uniform today laid flowers and tribute messages under the tree where Sophie died accompanied by their parents.
David Kemp, 66, a retired taxi driver who lives on the same estate as Sophie’s family, described the twins as ”adorable”.
He said: ”I have been a taxi driver in Yaxley for 25 years and I used to take children to school. They were a lovely and very close family. They were always very polite.
”I remember when Sophie’s parents taught her and her twin brother how to ride their bikes. The twins were adorable.
”She was only in the park because the teachers were on strike and the school was closed. All the local families are really devastated.
”She was just sat on the bench with some friends. The doctors surgery is only 100 yards away so they rushed out to try and save her, but they couldn’t.
”This is so sad I could cry.”
Sophie was sitting in Middletons Road Recreation Ground, less than half a mile from her home in Yaxley, Cambs., when the accident occurred at 2.32pm on Thursday.
She was relaxing with a group of friends when a branch fell from the 50ft high tree and she received serious injuries.
Off-duty doctors from the nearby Yaxley Group Practice rushed to the scene but Sophie was pronounced dead after she was taken to Peterborough City Hospital.
Following the accident police cordoned off the recreation ground and removed the bench and the remains of the one-foot thick branch have been cut down and taken away.
Cambridgeshire Constabulary is not treating the death as suspicious but the Health and Safety Executive has been informed of the tragic accident.
Flowers and tribute cards were today left at the scene.
One of the cards read: “To Sophie, I’m going to miss you, from Nicole.”
A card on a second bunch of flowers read: “Our thoughts are with you. Such a sad, sad day and a tragic loss.”
A mum-of-two, who lives opposite the park, said: ”I heard the ambulance and police arrive. I hear it was a young girl who was hit by a branch, it’s terrible news.
”The Yaxley Group Practice doctor’s surgery looks over that part of the park so I guess they came over to help from there.”
Gary Sanderson, spokesman for East of England Ambulance Service, said two crews were sent to the recreation ground at 2.23pm on Thursday.
He said: ”First and foremost our thoughts are firmly with the girl’s family at this tragic time.
”On our arrival the girl was being cared for by two off duty doctors from a nearby surgery.
”Paramedics worked extremely hard to treat, stabilise and immobilise the girl before she was conveyed to Peterborough City Hospital where sadly she died.”
Hundreds of friends and family have joined a Facebook tribute site called ”RIP Sophie Howard You will never be forgotten”.
The 50ft tall poplar tree in Middletons Road Recreation Ground is owned and maintained by Yaxley Parish Council.
Chairman David Youles said the tree had to be ”pollarded” by tree surgeons last Autumn after concerns about its safety.
He said: ”I can assure you everything possible was done to regularly maintain and inspect all trees in the park.
”There is an inquiry and ongoing police investigation but all our sympathies go to the family of the girl as this was a horrible and nasty incident.”