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Anorak | Teenager Sophie Howard Died On The Day Of The Teacher’ Strike: Who’s To Blame?

Teenager Sophie Howard Died On The Day Of The Teacher’ Strike: Who’s To Blame?

by | 1st, July 2011

ON the day of the teachers’ strike, 13-year-old Sophie Howard, of Yaxley, Peterborough, died. A branch fell on her.

Miss Howard was a student at Sawtry Community College, Cambridgeshire. She wasn’t at school on the day of her death because the school was shut for industrial action.

The Mail nots the words of “one angry parent” on twitter.

“she should have been safe at school, she was just sat on a bench talking with friends….it could have been my daughter.”

We have no idea who this alleged angry parent is, just that words have been written. The Mail is keen to push the idea that a freak accient could have befallen anyone – and thanks to schools being shut, it could have befallen your child, or a teacher.

The BBC makes no mention of the strike in its report. It just says that Howard was killed by a “15ft falling tree branch“. The Mail says it was a 1ft-thick branch.

The Times makes the link between her death and the strike overt:

A 13-year-old girl has died after she was hit by a falling branch while relaxing in a park because her school had been closed by yesterday’s strike.

The Mirror also mentions the strike. It is aware of the possible link between the strike and the girl’s death. But it ends the article by telling its readers:

A statement on the school’s website by principal James Stewart told parents that the closure was unavoidable.

He added: “Regrettably, this means that you will need to make alternative arrangements for your children.”

Are we to make another link and blame the coalition government for the death of Sophie Howard? Are the Mirror and the Mail just two sides of the same coin?

A man tells the Mail:

“We contacted the council about the trees out here being dangerous, some of them grew up and dropped leaves in the gutter. Some were also hanging over the park. The tree that fell did have something done to it, it makes you wonder how good of a job they did.”

First the teachers are implicated in the death of Sophie Howard, now the council workers are drawn into the case. The Mail is swinging a sharp-nipped pen dipped in poisonous ink.

A local man tells the paper:

“She was only in the park because the teachers were on strike and the school was closed. 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.”

The girl’s friends gathered in the park which is popular with families after the accident and waited for an update about her condition before they were later told that she was dead. Her parents were not there at the time but went to the park after they had been told of the accident.

Chairman of the parish council David Youles addresses the media:

“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. No one has came to the council to report anything about this tree. We would have a record of any complaint and any councillor would have asked them to put it in writing.”

Sophie’s parents Martin, 49, and Laura said her twin brother Elliott issue a statement:

“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. We politely ask that our privacy be respected at this time and we will not be issuing anything further.”

No chance…

NOTE: You may recall this tragedy from 2007:

The family of a boy killed by a falling tree branch on a school trip say it was a one-in-a-million chance accident. Daniel Mullinger, 11, from Stanway, near Colchester, Essex, died and three children were injured in Tuesday’s accident at Felbrigg, in Norfolk.

Or this from 2010:

The parents of a 17-year-old girl who died when the school bus she was travelling in crashed in bad weather near Biggar have spoken of their “devastation” at her death. Natasha Paton, from Cleghorn, Lanark, was a pupil at Lanark Grammar school and died after the bus left the road and crashed into a burn beside the A73 at Wiston. She was found in water underneath the bus.

And the AA says:

Around 5,000 children under the age of 16 die or are seriously injured on Britain’s roads each year…

So. If children were at school less often, would fewer of them get hit by cars..?



Posted: 1st, July 2011 | In: Key Posts, Reviews Comments (7) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink