The Study Preparatory School tragedy

On 6th July 2023, a series of emergency calls were received by London Ambulance Service in relation to a vehicle collision at The Study Preparatory School in Wimbledon.

It was the end of year tea party, and all the teachers, students and parents were outside celebrating the last day before summer holidays.

At approximately 9.54 am, a Land Rover Defender crashed through the school’s wooden fence and into the back of the school building. The London Ambulance service declared it a major incident with fifteen ambulances dispatched to the scene. There were also thirty-five police vehicles were in attendance.

The Sunday Times reported that the car crash left sixteen people needing treatment at the scene, with ten taken to hospital after the incident. Sadly, Selena Lau, a student at The Study Prep, died at the scene. The 46-year-old woman who was driving was arrested at the scene on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and taken into custody. She was later bailed until late July.

Three days after the tragic accident, Nuria Sajjad, another student at The Study Prep, passed away due to her injuries, whilst her mother was also hospitalised following the accident due to the extent of her injuries.

Merton Council stated that it was offering counselling to all the families affected, as well as students and staff at the school.

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”What we’re looking to do is to understand exactly how this tragic incident occurred. Above all, we have to remember that we’re talking about parents, parents who lost their loved ones. We need to make sure we can understand exactly how this incident occurred and that they can ensure there’s a level of accountability and lessons can be learned.”

  • Trevor Sterling – Senior partner

The case in numbers …

How long has it been?

The accident happened on 6th July 2023. It has been over 9 months to get to this point and the family is still waiting on answers.

How many victims are there?

There were two fatalities and a further 10 school children, parents and teaches were injured. There we many more suffering psychological trauma.

The Moore Barlow team

Moore Barlow has a team of 2 lawyers and 1 paralegal working on the case, backed up by a support team of 20 internal and external personnel.

How many people are under investigation?

There is a 46-year old woman under investigation.

The timeline

6 July 2023

The London Ambulance Service was mobilised after there were calls of a collision at The Study Preparatory School in Wimbledon. The London Ambulance service declared it a major incident with fifteen ambulances in attendance as well as thirty-five police vehicles.

10 July 2023

It was reported by the Sun and the Wimbledon Guardian that a source had stepped forward and stated that,

“the driver was in a delirious condition and had bitten through her tongue. She had stopped outside the school but the car took off as if the driver had suddenly floored the accelerator. At this point the police believe she had some kind of seizure just before the accident.”

No comments were made by the police at this time, but the police had stated that they would ask the community to avoid speculating the possible cause whilst these enquiries are carried out.

Inquests into the deaths of Nuria and Selena were opened and adjourned at Inner West London Coroner’s Court on July 12th 2023. The MET Police reported to BBC London that it recognised the “time taken can cause further distress, but it is only right and fair to all involved that we carry out a thorough and extreme investigation.

1 September 2023

A friend of Nuria’s family contacted Moore Barlow after Trevor Sterling was recommended as a leading personal injury lawyer. The friend then suggested that Nuria’s parents get in touch directly.

An initial meeting was set up at the family home and attended by Trevor Sterling, Amandeep Khasriya and Maham Khalid. Nuria’s parents discussed the accident circumstances, including any physical injuries and psychological trauma from being at the scene.

From those initial instructions the number of clients grew to 20.

20 September 2023

It was reported by the Guardian that the woman who was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving was taken to hospital after the event, where her condition was assessed as non-life threatening and had initially been bailed in September. However just three days after that report, on 23rd September the Met Police confirmed that although the defendant was initially bailed until September, they confirmed in an update to the Standard that she has been “re-bailed until January”.

6 November 2023

An interview with BBC was set up four months after the incident, with Nuria’s parents to shed light on the event circumstances and events. The interview focused on the incident itself, survivor’s guilt, and the quest for justice, evoking tears from all, including Trevor, Amandeep, and Maham, who had visited Nuria’s parents’ home to provide support and guidance prior to the interview.

As a result of the interview the Met Police spokesperson commented that the investigation is ongoing and went on further to say:

We understand the families want and need answers as to what happened. We are continuing to give them specialist support through our dedicated family liaison officers who are providing updates on the investigation where they can.

Specialist detectives are working tirelessly to establish the circumstances of that day, including analysing CCTV and examining the expert report from forensic collision investigators.

We recognise that the time taken can cause further distress but it is only right and fair to all involved that we carry out a thorough and extensive investigation.

16 November 2023

A witness came forward after the BBC interview, stating that he and his colleagues who were present at the time of the incident, had given their details to the police but received no follow-up. This is crucial because it underscores that the police did not reach out directly to key witnesses. The witnesses contacted Moore Barlow instead.

31 December 2023

The Sunday Times publish  the interview from the 15th December.

Our girl smiled for this photo. Seconds later a Land Rover hit the school.

3 January 2023

Sajjad and Smera are interviewed by Tom Edward’s from the BBC. In this, their second BBC London interview, Sajjad and Smera discussed how after 6 months they had still not had an update and that they wanted justice. The interview was aired on 5th December 2023.

Read the full BBC article – Mum shares photo taken moments before school crash

The main takeaways from the interview were:

  • Six months on, what happened that day remains the subject of a police investigation. A 46-year-old woman from Wimbledon was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving in July and bailed until January.
  • Those affected by the crash have been left traumatised and bewildered at what they see as a lack of progress.
  • So far they have not had any answers to their questions. What led to the car losing control? Could anything have been done to prevent it? Who bears responsibility?
  • Nuria’s father, Sajjad Butt, said there had not been much progress: “Ultimately, our position of essentially waiting for what we want and need,  justice, is still very much the status quo.”
  • Ms Chohan said she and her husband felt they had to speak to BBC London, as they think it might help them get answers. “We shouldn’t have to do this,” she said. “This should have been the priority from day one. For us to talk to you to help raise our voice is a question again – why? We all know what happened.”
  • Trevor Sterling, the senior partner at Moore Barlow, said this “Six months is too long. We have got to make sure the families are front and centre of this. This has been the most horrendous time for them. They’re entitled to have a clear picture as to what happened to their children.”

5 January 2024

Trevor Sterling spoke to Riz Lateef from Radio London, about the developments in the case.

6 January 2024

A private service is held for Nuria at a local venue in Wimbledon, attended by her friends and family.

Trevor Sterling speaks to Vanessa Feltz

Trevor Sterling said there have been “no adequate updates” and “no time scale” for the families to work towards. He added: “The more they wait, the worse it is for them.”

Nuria and Selena’s parents have demand “justice for their daughter” saying they are “suffering every day”.

The Met police have confirmed that their investigation is still ongoing and said “This was a tragic incident, and we understand that the families want and need answers as to what happened. We recognise that the time taken can cause further distress, but it is only right and fair to all involved that we carry out a thorough and extensive investigation.”

21 March 2024

On 21 March 2024, Nuria’s parents appeared on ITV ahead of Nuria’s birthday to share their frustration at the lack of legal progress eight months on.

Moore Barlow have also now written to the Chief Commissioner Sir Mark Rowley requesting he meet the family members as we believe they deserve an explanation regarding the lack of resources and delay.

Read the full story here:

Updates coming soon …

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