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Suspect in four-year-old girl's hit-and-run death 'fled UK hours later'

A man seen running from the scene of a crash which killed a four-year-old girl is believed to have fled the country just hours later, police said.

Violet-Grace Youens died in her mother's arms on Saturday, after she was struck by a stolen black Ford Fiesta while walking through St Helens, Merseyside, on Friday.

Her grandmother, Angela French, 55, was also injured in the crash and is in a serious but stable condition in hospital.

Merseyside Police released CCTV images of two men fleeing the scene after the crash, which happened on Prescot Road at about 3pm on Friday.

On Monday a 27-year-old man from St Helens was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and causing serious injury by dangerous driving.

Police said they were working with authorities abroad to locate a 23-year-old man who was believed to have left the country just hours after the collision.

Detective Chief Inspector Chris Sephton said: "We believe that a second male, aged 23, who we would like to speak to, is abroad. He left approximately three hours after the incident.

"We have been in contact with the authorities of the country where we believe he is.

"We are not releasing that information at the present time but we are doing everything we can to try and identify where he is now and get him back over here."

A third man, aged 23 and from Prescot, was arrested on suspicion of being carried in a stolen vehicle but later released pending further inquiries.

Violet-Grace's mother, Rebecca Youens, paid tribute to her "brave baby girl" after she died in hospital.

"My beautiful baby girl passed away in my arms on 25/03/2017 at 23:38," she said in a Facebook post.

"Thank you for all your well wishes ... she was just too poorly.

"However, my brave baby girl saved two lives by donating her kidneys and pancreas.

"I am truly heartbroken but proud of my little fighter."

A fundraising website set up in memory of the youngster raised more than £10,000 in one day.

The GoFundMe page was set up to raise money to help Violet-Grace's family at "this truly traumatic time".

A message posted on the site said: " Money won't bring this beautiful girl back, but it will certainly take one worry away from her grieving parents. Please give what you can."

Anyone with information can call Merseyside Police on 0151 777 6041 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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