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Boy mown down by car being chased by police was 'incredible child'

Published 01/09/2016

Police at the scene in Lennard Road, Penge, after a car being chased by police ploughed into a family
Police at the scene in Lennard Road, Penge, after a car being chased by police ploughed into a family

A 10-year-old boy mown down and killed alongside his aunt by a suspected stolen car being chased by police has been described as "an incredible child".

Tributes have been paid to Makayah McDermott and Rosie Cooper , 34, who were walking along Lennard Road when the vehicle ploughed in to them in Penge, south-east London on Wednesday afternoon.

Two 13-year-olds and an eight-year-old girl, all related to the pair, have since been released from hospital.

Two of the girls, named as Niyah and Yahla, Makayah's older sisters, had been injured after being trapped underneath the car and managed to crawl out when bystanders lifted it off them.

Those who knew the family described their devastation following the "freak accident" and said they were close-knit.

Makayah was a young actor and just last week had an audition for a part in a television series set in the 1950s.

Lisa Pitman of Virtue Taekwon-Do had known him since he was four years old.

Paying tribute to him and his family she said: "We are in shock and gutted, such an incredible child, we have been teaching him since the age of four years.

"This is the most tragic freak accident, the family are beautiful, incredible, caring people. They will be indescribably devastated, just as we are."

Ms Cooper's neighbour said she often saw the young mother with her nieces and nephews.

Jackie Francis, from Beckenham, said: "We were neighbourly. She was a really nice girl. We would say hello as she came and went.

"I just couldn't believe it when I heard.

"She was a typical young mother, always with the children, she was very fond of her children.

"It's just horrible. They were a close family, undoubtedly close."

Ms Francis added that Ms Cooper's daughter was "quite athletic" and would often play outside "doing cartwheels".

A single red rose and a card addressed to "Rose's family" lay on Ms Cooper's doorstep.

In the aftermath of the incident one distraught woman described how she tried to resuscitate Ms Cooper.

Venissa Vassell, 18, who ran from a nearby railway station to help, said: "I did CPR on this lady. I blew in her mouth."

She added that Makayah was fine one moment, but then "by the time I came back to speak to the little girl to say 'your brother is all right', he was passed out."

Police are continuing to question a 23-year-old man who was arrested at the scene on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and theft of a vehicle.

Lennard Road was cordoned off as police carried out investigations, and reopened shortly after midnight.

Scotland Yard said: "Inquiries into the collision continue by officers from the Roads and Transport Policing Command - anyone with information is asked to contact police on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

"The Directorate of Professional Standards has been informed. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) were also informed and will investigate this incident independently."

There were 498 crashes involving a pursuit by Metropolitan Police officers in London in 2015/16, up from 434 in the previous year. There were 474 such collisions in 2013/14.

In England and Wales there were 21 fatalities in 20 police-related road traffic incidents in 2015/16, up from 14 the previous year.

However, the IPCC said it was the fourth lowest figure since 2004/5.

Samantha Dobson, who had been a client and friend of hairdresser Ms Cooper for a decade, tearfully placed a floral tribute and card at the scene of the incident.

Describing her friend, she said: "She was one of the kindest, most beautiful, caring people you would ever meet.

"Her life was her family and her daughter. Her unit was her mum, her sister and her nieces and nephews."

Ms Dobson continued: "It is just such a waste of life. It is just a case of being totally in the wrong place at the wrong time. It just seems such a waste."

Ms Cooper was described as a "fantastic" hairdresser, who had become more of a friend over the years.

"She was involved in our lives. She was bubbly. She was very happy, and happy with her lot. She will be really, really missed," said Ms Dobson, who lives locally.

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