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Archive - Saturday, 16 January 2010
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Blackburn schoolgirl dies after falling in icy conditions
AN 11-YEAR-OLD girl has died after falling on her way to school in icy conditions.
POPULAR PUPIL: Naeemah Achha
Naeemah Achha, described by teachers an “intelligent, kind and popular girl”, died in hospital yesterday after falling over in Victoria Street, yards away from St Michael with St John Primary School, Blackburn.
The youngster, who lived in London Road, suffered serious head injuries during the fall near the junction with Swallow Road on Thursday morning.
This morning hundreds of mourners gathered at Pleasington Cemetery for her funeral.
A major investigation is now underway into how she fell.
Police, who said they believed she had slipped on the ice, described the incident as “a tragic accident”.
Victoria Street had not been gritted because Blackburn with Darwen council has a policy of not covering side streets and pavements.
Yesterday the pavement was still in a slippery, icy condition.
The school governors have called in the council’s “critical incident support team” to investigate the incident.
One of the girl’s aunts said: “This is such a tragic thing to happen in the family.
"Obviously the parents are broken down. She was a lovely girl and would never say no to anyone.”
It is understood Naeemah had been dropped off at school but had been making her way to another entrance when she fell.
The school’s lollipop man, Saeed Patel, and another resident, Parvais Mohammed, are believed to have been first on the scene.
The community was said to be in shock yesterday, as neighbours gathered at the girl’s house to pay tribute.
Hussain Akthar, a former councillor whose grandson is in the same year at the school, said: “It is shocking and sad news and the whole community is upset. These are very hard times.”
Questions have been raised about the icy state of the roads and pavements amid a national shortage of grit.
Mr Akhtar added: “The council is doing its best, but it’s not enough.”
Headteacher Kay Cant said: “It is with great sadness that we received the news about the passing of one of our year six pupils, Naeemah Achha.
“Naeemah was an intelligent, kind and popular girl who showed maturity beyond her years. She was conscientious, reliable and hard working.
“Naeemah had a very good sense of humour, was always happy and had a smile that lit up the room. She will be sadly missed by everyone.
“It is at times like this when the school and its wider community draw together to support each other.
"Our thoughts and prayers are with Naeemah’s family at this very sad time.”
Reverend Philip Knowles, the chair of governors, said: “The head, the deputy and I spoke to all staff and pupils today about the school’s tragic loss.
“Next week the pupils are going to support the family as far as possible by recalling happy memories about Naeemah and including these in a book.”
Yesterday afternoon Blackburn MP Jack Straw, alongside Mr Akhtar, visited the family.
He said: “It’s an absolute tragedy and everyone’s heart will go out to the family.”
Blackburn with Darwen council leader Michael Lee said: “This is a very shocking incident and our sympathies go to the family, community and the school during what must be an horrendous time for everybody.
"The council is giving its full support to the investigation taking place to establish exactly what happened."
Labour leader Kate Hollern said the council had “questions to answer” about gritting levels.
Det Insp Gill Johnson said police believed that the youngster slipped on ice.
She said: "At this stage it is being treated as a tragic accident but we are still trying to find out exactly what happened.
"Our thoughts are with the family at this difficult time."