Two schoolboys dead and two pals fight for their lives after Leeds road tragedy

TWO schoolboys died – and two others were left fighting for their lives in hospital – after a horror road accident in Leeds.

By Lindsay Pantry
Monday, 9th March 2015, 7:38 am
Police pictures of the four crash victims
Police pictures of the four crash victims

Rhys Baker, 13, and George Wharton, 14, who are both from Morley, died after the road accident on the A62 Gelderd Road, Morley, close to the CAT Finning shop, at 1.50pm on Saturday.

Their friends, 14-year-old Kameron Walters, and Joshua Van Veen, 15, remained in hospital in a critical condition last night as a result of the collision. The driver of the car, a 21-year-old man, is in a serious but stable condition.

Speaking at the scene of the crash, where dozens of the boys’ friends left flowers yesterday, Superintendent Sam Millar of Leeds Police said the crash had been an “absolute tragedy”.

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The blue Peugeot was travelling along the A62 in the direction of Gildersome when the car left the road and collided with a tree. The driver had picked the four boys up from their homes, without the permission of their parents, before driving around the area, police said.

No other vehicles are believed to have been involved, although it is thought the car overtook another vehicle at speed during the incident.

Supt Millar said: “It would appear that the vehicle lost control, and has ended up hitting a tree. One of the passengers, a 13-year-old boy, died instantly at the scene, and a second boy died later on in hospital because of his injuries. Two other boys remain critically ill, and the driver is also seriously ill but stable.

“This is an absolute tragedy for these families, for our community and for the local schools.”

Police pictures of the four crash victims

Supt Millar praised the actions of members of the public, who came to the boys’ help immediately after the crash.

She said: “The scene that must have faced them was unimaginable. The support that these members of the public gave the young boys and the emergency services was really commendable.”

Specially trained officers are helping the families, and police are working closely with Bruntcliffe School and Morley Academy to support staff and pupils. Officers were also at the accident site yesterday, supporting the dozens of children who stopped to pay their respects.

“We are working with the schools to make sure we are supporting them as much as possible,” Supt Millar said. “Some of it will be about information, some of it will be about support, some of it will be keeping them updated as to when the investigation progresses. It is about working together to do everything we can to support the children.

Superintendent Sam Millar of Leeds Police at the scene where two teanagers, 13 and 14 died after road traffic collision. Picture Tony Johnson

“Specially trained officers are with the families at the moment, at the hospital, and we also have our local neighbourhood teams out in the community.”

Officers are also trying to

determine what happened in the minutes leading up to the crash.

Supt Millar added: “This blue Peugeot was out and about in the Morley area on Saturday, particularly in the area of Rein Road in Morley and the Tesco Express on Churwell Hill.

Kameron Walters, 15

“I would ask anybody who saw this vehicle to please make contact with police, phone 101 and let us know what you saw.

“Two young boys absolutely tragically lost their lives here and our sincere thoughts are with their families and the

communities that they come from.”

Dave Gurney, executive headteacher of Bruntcliffe School, said: “Our condolences go to the families of both the boys who lost their lives in this tragic accident.

“Rhys was a well-liked member of his year group and will be sadly missed by all staff and students at Bruntcliffe.

“Our thoughts are also with the other students who both remain in a critical condition in hospital. We hope they make a full recovery.

Rhys Baker, 13

“This is a terrible tragedy and one which is being felt right across our whole school community and the wider community in Morley.

“We will be offering specialist support to students and staff in school, and will come together to support one another at this really difficult time.”

Leanne Griffiths, principal of The Morley Academy said: “Our sincere condolences go to the families of both the boys who tragically lost their lives in this terrible accident.

“George Wharton was a popular boy with a bright future ahead of him and his loss will be felt profoundly by staff and students at The Morley Academy.

“Another of our students remains in a critical condition in hospital and we continue to pray for his recovery.

“This is a devastating tragedy, the effects of which are being profoundly felt within school and across the wider community in Morley.

“Specialist advisers will be on hand in the academy to support students and staff as we come together to support one another at this very difficult time.”

Judith Blake, deputy leader and executive member for children and families at Leeds City Council, said: “Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the young people involved in this terrible and tragic accident.

“We will be working with all schools affected to make sure that they have all the support they need for their students and staff at this very sad time.

“We will also work with the police to ensure that the families affected have all the support they need at this terribly difficult time.”

Any witnesses are asked to contact the Major Collision and Enquiry Team on 101.

George Wharton, 14
Joshua Van Veen, 15
School friends at the scene of the crash
School friends lay flowers at the scene