A HEARTFELT tribute has been issued by the family of a 13-year-old Blackburn schoolgirl who was killed in a motorway horror crash.

The family of Sana Patel, who died in a collision on the M61 on Saturday night, have described the Tauheedul Islam Girls pupil as "friendly and cheeky".

Schoolfriends of the teenager will also be given counselling to help them come to terms with the youngster's loss.

In a statement released through Lancashire Police, the family said: "Sana was a friendly and cheeky girl who was always smiling.

"She had a real zest for life and fun. She lit up the lives of so many around her and had so much to look forward to.

"We will miss her sorely and always remember her fondly. She has left us with so many good memories.

"We would like everyone to respect our privacy at this tragic time. We ask everyone to remember our family in their prayers."

Her parents, her two brothers, and her grandmother, were also passengers in a Nissan Qashqai, which was involved in a crash with a Vauxhall Corsa at around 10pm. They suffered minor injuries.

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A spokesman for Tauheedul Islam Girls School said that everyone at the Beardwood school was "heartbroken".

"Our thoughts and prayers are with Sana and her family during this very distressing and difficult time.

“Later we will come together as a school to reflect on Sana’s life and offer prayers for her and her family.

"Over the coming days and weeks, we will also be providing emotional support to our students and staff."

Police said that initially the driver and passenger of the Corsa had left the scene. But it later emerged that two arrests were made.

A 23-year-old woman, from the Mirfield area of West Yorkshire, was detained on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving. A 28-year-old Dewsbury man was arrested on the same charge, and failing to stop at the scene of an accident. Both have been released by police under investigation.

Supt Andy Cribbin, of Lancashire Police, said: "This was a tragic incident in which Sana Patel lost her life and our thoughts are very much with her family and friends at his unimaginably difficult time."

The police investigation is still ongoing and anyone with information is asked to call 101, quoting log number 1817 of July 6.