East End mourns ‘little angel’ Alexia who dies after playpark accident
PUBLISHED: 11:26 21 July 2015 | UPDATED: 12:43 21 July 2015
The East End of London is in shock this week for the “little angel at peace” who died after a tragic accident when play equipment crashed in a children’s playground.
Little Alexia Walenkaki was with three pals balancing on a log frame at Mile End Park which collapsed, hitting her in the back of the head, an eye witness said.
Alexia died at the Royal London Hospital on Friday—a day before her sixth birthday.
Prayers were said on Sunday at the church where the family prays regularly, St Dunstan’s in Stepney, when the vicar announced her sad death.
A special assembly was also held on Monday at her school, Stepney Greencoat Church of England Primary.
Parents and their children this week have been laying flowers at the gates of the playpark in Locksley Street, off Burdett Road—now shut while the Health & Safety Executive and Metropolitan Police carry out an investigation into the circumstances.
“Forever in my thoughts, darling Alexia,” one tribute read. “May God Rest You in Peace, little angel. Love always from Marie and Frank (mum and dad).”
A second read: “God bless you, angel. Love for ever. You will always be in my heart, Alexia.”
Many parents arriving at the locked gates were worried and felt “let down” by play equipment that had claimed a young life.
Mother-of-two Tracy Grazette from Locksley Street told the East London Advertiser: “I feel let down—there’s no trust because of what’s happened.
“I don’t feel safe any more for my own daughter who’s eight. The mothers here are really worried. There’s disbelief that this could happen.”
Mother-of-five Amy Kaur, a neighbour of Alexia’s family in nearby Carr Street who saw them most days in the playpark, said: “I don’t thing there’s security now—you just see the gate open and that’s it.”
Bus driver Peter Smith from Salmon Lane stopped off after his shift yesterday to pay respect to Alexia’s memory.
He said: “My own grandchildren have been on that climbing frame and it always seemed safe. It must have just come loose, which is worrying—you don’t know what to expect.”
Mothers with their children watched in horror when it collapsed on Friday afternoon.
Alexia’s mum, Vida Kwotuah, rushed forward.
“I sat where I could keep an eye on her,” she later told the press. “All of a sudden I see this log falling down and I started screaming.”
Another woman rushed forward to try and revive Alexia. The woman’s mother who witnesses the scene told the Advertiser: “The pole fell down hit the child on back of head—she was choking on her blood.
“My daughter tried to clear the blood from her throat. She was speaking to paramedics on her mobile phone before the ambulance arrived who told her to clear the blood and give her mouth-to-mouth.”
Alexia was one of four little girls balancing on logs held up by wooden supports when the play equipment crashed.
“The children fell down, but seemed alright,” the witness added. “But as the girl got up, one of the poles fell on her and hit the back of her head.”
An ambulance arrived along with a paramedic and London’s Air Ambulance trauma team around 5.30pm—but she died later in hospital at 6.43pm, despite a battle to save her.
An ambulance spokesman said: “The first medics were on the scene in seven minutes. We treated a young girl who was sadly in cardiac arrest. Extensive efforts were made to resuscitate her at the scene and on the way to hospital.”
Tower Hamlets council which runs the playpark offered its “deepest sympathies to the family” as a full investigation got under way.
Scotland Yard confirmed today: “At this early stage, officers believe the girl was injured in an accident involving the collapse of a tree to which a zip wire was attached.”
A hospital post mortem originally set for yesterday is now being held tomorrow, with an inquest likely at Poplar at a future date.
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