Mother left with broken bones in school crash says she couldn’t give dying daughter final hug

Nuria Sajjad’s parents are calling for answers from the Metropolitan Police

Holly Evans
Sunday 31 December 2023 17:49
<p>Nuria Sajjad was killed in the incident at the Study Prep school in Wimbledon on 6 July</p>

Nuria Sajjad was killed in the incident at the Study Prep school in Wimbledon on 6 July

A mother whose daughter was killed when a Land Rover ploughed into a southwest London school was unable to give her a final hug because of the extent of her own injuries.

On a summer’s morning in July, Nuria Sajjad, eight, had enjoyed an end-of-term tea party at the all-girls preparatory school in Wimbledon and had just read out her “hopes and dreams” for the holiday, which included a trip to the Isle of Wight.

Less than one minute before the black-and-gold vehicle ploughed into the playground, she had posed for a photograph with her mother Smera Chohan, which shows the two smiling widely to celebrate the start of the school holiday.

Nuria was killed when a Land Rover crashed in a school playground

While her mother suffered eight broken ribs, a broken shoulder and pelvis and needed to undergo three surgical operations, Nuria’s injuries were fatal and she passed away in hospital three days later.

As a result of her own injuries, Ms Chohan was unable to hug her daughter goodbye, despite being placed in a wheelchair next to her as the life-support machine was switched off.

“I didn’t get to give her the last hug that I so badly miss now. If I could, I would go back. Because of my own broken body and hers, I couldn’t lift her up in my arms to say goodbye. It’s never going to make sense. It is never going to be OK,” she said.

Nuria’s classmate, Selena Lau, was also killed in the incident, while more than a dozen others were injured. The driver, a woman in her forties, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving and has been bailed until January.

Ms Chohan has now called on the Met Police to provide answers, and has questioned what she says is a delay in investigating the case. “We have started asking questions and there are still no answers,” she said. “Make this case a priority.”

Eight-year-old Selena Lau was also killed in the incident

She and her husband, Sajjad Butt, are struggling to understand the “injustice” of how their family was destroyed, with their only child taken from them in a matter of seconds.

Speaking to The Sunday Times, Ms Chohan said: “If parents pass away, you call the children orphans. What do you call us? This is not the natural way.”

Nuria was born despite her mother experiencing complications caused by lupus, and enjoyed dancing and Disney films and was “full of happiness”, her family said.

After remaining in St George’s Hospital in Tooting for 11 days, Ms Chohan elected to return home for treatment “before her [daughter’s] smell had left the house”. Since her death, the couple have kept her bedroom exactly as it was, with her clothes laid out and Barbies lined up.

Flowers and tributes placed outside the Study Prep school in southwest London

Speaking of those first few days, her father said the couple sat in their daughter’s bedroom and “howled” with grief as they attempted to understand the enormity of their loss. “It was more than crying. I was even worried about Smera’s will to live lasting through the night, let alone the rest of our lives. It was very hard.”

The couple are now calling for “accountability” and are being supported by Trevor Sterling, a lawyer from the firm Moore Barlow, who is also representing around 20 people who were injured that day and are looking to seek compensation from the driver.

Detective Chief Superintendent Clair Kelland, who is in charge of policing for southwest London, said: “Our thoughts remain with the families of Nuria and Selena, who we know are greatly loved and missed.

“This was a tragic incident and we understand that 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.”

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