http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jh … uad227.xml
Seven-year-old girl dies in quad bike crash
By Richard Edwards and Nick Allen
Last Updated: 2:28pm GMT 27/12/2007
A seven-year-old girl has died in a head-on crash as she drove along a country road on a quad bike she had been given for Christmas.
The road was dark when the collision happened
Elizabeth Cooke and her 10-year-old brother Jack were following their father's car in the dark along an unlit lane in the village of Blackmore, Essex, last night.
The little blonde girl was killed in a collision with a Range Rover travelling in the opposite direction at 7pm.
The tragedy happened quarter of a mile away from the home of her parents, Gary and Claire Cooke, who live at Bluebell Farm and run a chicken farm.
A friend of the family, who did not want to be named, said the excited children were taking their quad bikes, which they got as presents, out for a ride on Fingrith Hall Lane, a narrow road flanked with hedgerows and fields.
The friend, who was still visibly shaken by the tragedy, said: "We were in the car with the children's dad and they were following us behind. They had come to pick us up and we'd only gone 200 yards when it happened.
"I was watching them, keeping an eye on them. They both had lights on their bikes. I don’t really know what happened.
"It’s such a tragedy, it's absolutely awful especially at Christmas time. I don’t know how they will cope."
Elizabeth was rushed to hospital in Chelmsford but could not be saved. Her brother, Jack, was not injured in the crash.
An Essex Police spokesperson said that a 28-year-old woman driving the Range Rover was arrested and bailed until New Year's Eve. It is understood police are treating it as a tragic accident.
The quiet country road has two blue "Police Slow" signs. Authorities said it was illegal for children to drive any vehicle on a public highway.
The Quadzilla Pro-Shark quad bike, the model believed to be being driven by the seven-year-old, is designed for use by children in fields.
A Shark quad bike of the type Elizabeth was believed to be riding when she died
The bikes are not legal on public roads unless modified and driven by someone over 16 wearing a crash helmet who is appropriately insured.
Neighbours revealed that Gary, 46, and Claire, 34, live in a large farm house set in 49 acres of land. They have around 7,000 chickens and sell free-range eggs.
The children own ponies, which are kept in the surrounding fields.
A neighbour, who did not want to be named, said: "They use a quad bike across the fields to water their ponies.
"Elizabeth is a tiny blonde little thing. She's a very sweet little girl.
"I’ve often seen Claire taking the ponies to school to collect the children."
Another neighbour, Hayley Davies, 35, that the country roads around Blackmore are often used as a shortcut to nearby Chelmsford.
She said: "My children don't hack out their ponies in the afternoon because the roads are too dangerous, they use it as a racetrack.
"It's such a tragedy that something like this has happened, I really feel for them."
The family were too distraught to talk today and were being comforted by friends and relatives.
A friend who answered the door at the large farm house surrounded by fields said: "They are grieving and in a very bad way."
Sales of the quad bikes have continued to grow. On average, two people die every year in accidents.
Non-fatal accidents are estimated to amount to over 1,000 serious injuries per year.
Manufacturers say bikes under 70cc are suitable for 6 year olds and older, and those from 70cc to 90cc are suitable for 12 year olds and older. Some are capable of speeds of up to 40mph.
A spokesman for the road safety charity Brake said: "Even with permission to use the machines on private land, children should not be put in control of them - the sheer power and speed of them is dangerous wherever they are used."