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Detectives from British Transport Police are calling on members of the public to help piece together the final moments of the life of 13-year-old Zoe Miller who was found dead on the tracks near to Berkhamsted rail station on Monday morning.
Zoe, a student from Berkhamsted, was found dead on the tracks on Monday, 23 April after it is believed she fell from a nearby road bridge.
Detective Inspector Andy Rose, leading the investigation for BTP, said: “We are determined to work out exactly what happened to Zoe and I am calling on people who may have been in the area to help with this. Did you see Zoe? Perhaps you were driving down Ivy House Lane or the junction by Bank Mill and saw her walking? Whatever information you have, no matter how insignificant it may seem, it could prove valuable in helping us piece together Zoe’s final few minutes.”
DI Rose continued: “Zoe has left behind a distraught family and we want to be able to tell them exactly what happened and help them come to terms with the tragedy. BTP and Hertfordshire Constabulary officers attended the incident, which was reported to BTP at 6.15am and is currently being treated as non-suspicious. East of England Ambulance Service also attended but the person, believed to be 13-years-old and from the local area, was pronounced dead at the scene. Officers are currently working to establish the full circumstances leading up to her death, including how she came to be by the track, and a file will be prepared for the coroner.”
The East of England Ambulance Service were alerted to Berkhamsted train station at 6.20am and crews from Hemel, Tring and Watford attended the scene. Sadly after everyone’s best efforts, the girl was pronounced dead at the scene by paramedics.
Ambulance spokesman Gary Sanderson said: “First and foremost our thoughts are with the girl’s family at this tragic time.”
In a tribute to Zoe, her parents Jane and Rob and her 11-year-old sister Sam said: '’Zoe was an adventurous, brilliant, creative, beautiful, happy and wonderful daughter and we are trying to come to terms with our loss.
"She had an amazing life ahead of her."
Zoe and her family have only returned to live in the UK, and Berkhamsted in August 2012. So tributes have poured in from all over the world… She was a child who had spent most of her 13 years out of the UK: born in South Africa, then six years in Nigeria and two and a half in Zambia, with visits all over the world from the US where her father and his family are from, to South America, Nepal, Australia to Zanzibar – too many countries to count.
She was a member of the local air cadets as well as medic cadets with St Johns Ambulance – and was doing well at Abbot's Hill School. Not only was she brilliant academically, she also had huge artistic talent as well as fitness - and ran this year in the recent county cross country championships. In Nigeria she won the science fair last year with her project on soap making, and was runner up in the writing Oscars for the American International School she attended.
Zoe has been described by a close friend of the family as: "An incredibly bright and thoughtful person, always with a book nearby, often quiet and shy; also energetic and adventurous, and often with views beyond her age."
Another friend commented, "Zoe is an amazing girl. Her gentleness, her writing, her thoughts and ideas, her creativity. I was just so delighted when you told me she was in the cadets. I found her one of the most interesting teenagers I had ever spoken to. Wise beyond her years in ideas, politics and life…."
Just a few weeks ago, as part of a school reporting project she interviewed a friend following the bombing in Kano. This is what she said – "When she called me to talk about the bombing in Kano in February, I found it so helpful. I found that she was one of the first people that listened without judgement on assumptions. She had a way of drawing people into her…."
It appears that Zoe slipped out late at night Sunday because she couldn't sleep, and climbed on the wall on the bridge over the railroad behind our house. Her body was first noticed about the time we woke up Monday morning. We think that she was just messing around and did not perceive what would happen. She had her bag packed for school, homework done, school uniform laid out, plans organised for future events – and left no note. It was a terrible accident and we are still trying to come to terms with the situation.
Zoe's Mum, Jane, worked for on international development issues, through the UK Government's Department for International Development, on health, education and humanitarian issues across Africa; and her father Rob, works as a bioinformatics scientist in Welwyn Garden City.
Zoe visited the House of Commons in February this year to attend an event with her Mum – advocating for the abandonment of female genital cutting. It was an issue that interested her – and we have chosen to put any donations from her memorial into a charity she met up with in London – The Orchid Project. www.orchidproject.org
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