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21 November 2012, 14:07
The parents of a 13 year old girl, who was killed by a falling tree branch in a park in Yaxley, have called for lessons to be learned from the tragedy.
13 year old Sophie Howard was killed when she was sitting under a tree in Middletons Road recreation ground on the 30th June last year.
A branch snapped off, hit her and killed her instantly.
Sophie was off school when it happened as teachers were on strike.
An inquest into Sophie's death found a tree inspector examined the tree prior to the incident and the expected recommendations implemented, the tree would have been made smaller, greatly reducing the risk of branches snapping.
Yesterday (Tuesday) the family's solicitors, Irwin Mitchell, said the family had reached an undisclosed out-of-court settlement with Yaxley Parish Council which was responsible for the tree.
Parents Laura and Martin Howard, from Yaxley, said:"The last 16 months have been horrendous as we've struggled to come to terms with the fact Sophie is no longer with us.
She was a beautiful girl with her whole life ahead of her but this has been taken from her and it is heartbreaking.
Her loss to us is immeasurable, and our grief endless.
At first it seemed a tragic case of fate or wrong time, wrong place, sadly after the coroner's inquest it became apparent that this was not the case.
We were horrified when we heard the Health and Safety Executive's report found that Yaxley Parish Council was not following the health and safety guidelines for risk assessments and maintenance in public places and that almost 30 other trees were in a hazardous condition.
We just hope councils across the country take note and learn from the mistakes that led to Sophie's death.
Nothing can bring her back, and no amount of money could ever make up for what happened, but we want to be sure no one else suffers such a huge loss as we have."