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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 April, 2003, 17:56 GMT 18:56 UK
Girl killed by model plane
Poster put up at Dartford Heath
Posters now ask people not to fly planes out of respect for Tara
A 13-year-old girl has died after she was struck on the head by a model aeroplane.

Tara Lipscombe, from Dartford, was walking with her mother across Dartford Heath in Kent at about 1700 BST on Tuesday when the incident happened.

Police say the radio-controlled plane appears to have flown out of control and hit the girl.

Tara was badly injured and taken by air ambulance to Darent Valley Hospital in Dartford where she died at about 2000 BST.

'Family devastated'

The plane was being flown by a 55-year-old man from south London who was spoken to at the scene by officers from Kent Police.

Police said Tara's family had left the area and were staying with friends or family.

"The family are quite clearly devastated by what has happened," a spokesman said.

"They have gone away to try to come to terms with everything and would appreciate it if people would allow them time for it to sink in and try to get life back to normal, if that is at all possible."

Dartford Heath
About 30 people regularly fly model planes at Dartford Heath

An investigation is being carried out into the circumstances of the incident, but police say early indications suggest it was "a very tragic accident".

They have not yet confirmed where the incident happened in relation to the designated area for flying.

The owner and operator of the model plane were both in shock after the incident, according to one witness.

John Lee, 53, was walking his three dogs when he came across the two men.

'Very shocked'

He spotted police cars and an ambulance - and asked a man walking towards him what was going on.

Mr Lee said: "A guy said 'my aeroplane just hit a little girl in the head'.

"The guy was in a bit of a state and I advised him to sit down. He looked very shocked."

A second man, who the owner said was a friend who had been flying his plane, also appeared to be in shock, Mr Lee said.

Mark of respect

Mr Lee, a model aeroplane enthusiast for 40 years, said about 30 people regularly flew planes on the 130-hectare heath but there should not be more than four in the air together.

The land, owned by Dartford Borough Council, has had a designated area for model flying since 1997.

A council spokesman said: "While the police investigation is under way, it is agreed with the British Model Flying Association that it advises its members not to use the site as a mark of respect to the family."

Posters have now been put up around the heath asking people not to fly planes.

A police spokesman said the Acrowot petrol-powered aircraft involved in the incident would be examined by police and, if necessary, by outside experts.

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