A Ukrainian schoolgirl who died after being found unconscious on a beach in Devon was a refugee fleeing Putin’s war.
Police were called to report that the teenager – who is believed to have been staying with a local family with her mother – had disappeared from the seaside town of Dawlish on Saturday evening.
Searches by a police helicopter and coast guard tracked the teenager down to a beach in the town and she was airlifted to Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital, where she later died.
Formal identification has taken place and next of kin have been informed, Devon and Cornwall Police said.
Police were called for reports of the missing teenage girl in Dawlish on Saturday night (photo taken on Monday)
The youngster has been described as a “kind and caring person” by students at a local school she attended. The sun reported.
One said, “She went to my school. It’s so sad, she was a sweet girl.’
Another student added: ‘We just got the news at the school I go to because she was a student here and we all feel terrible. She was such a kind and caring person and it’s so sad to see her go.”
Her death is currently being treated as unexplained, with officers appealing to anyone with CCTV or doorbell camera footage to come forward.
The tragic incident has upset many local people in the area, who are desperate for answers.
Carol Evans, a 72-year-old who volunteers at The Children’s Society shop in Dawlish, said: ‘I’m absolutely shocked, I feel terrible. I hope it wasn’t someone else who caused it.
“I think people will be very angry about it. I worked here for more than 10 years. You get to know everyone here – I know 99 percent of Dawlish.
“We made friends with many Ukrainian families – many of the ones we were very close with have returned.”
Searches by a police helicopter and coast guard tracked the teenager down to a beach in the city and she was airlifted to Royal Devon and Exeter hospital
Radyk Modrzynsk, owner of a bicycle shop, said: ‘I am in shock because my daughter is also 14. I will definitely talk to her about the situation when she gets home from school. I’m also concerned for her safety.’
The owner of a local farm shop expressed concern for the girl’s family, describing himself as “in shock” when he heard the news. He added, “I have teenage kids too and I’m just in shock about it. Our concern is for the poor girl’s family.’
Meanwhile, a postal worker said, “After all that those poor Ukrainian families have been through back home. It’s really terrible to hear.’
Jim Kernaghan, a 60-year-old senior kitchen assistant at Brunswick Arms, said: ‘Saturday night the helicopter came over from the beach.
“It hovered and circled there for a while, so we assumed something was up. I thought maybe someone got drunk and fell in the water.
“Nothing like this has ever happened in Dawlish.”
Mark Barber, who is 38 and works as a chef at the pub, said: ‘I would like a little more information as there is nothing to be found. I have my own children that I worry about.
The local community in Dawlish has said they are seeking answers about what happened
‘I heard it on the news. I’m afraid it’s something I have to worry about. We often see Ukrainian families passing through the pub for meals. It’s really sad news.’
A male customer at the pub, who drove a van to the Polish-Ukrainian border at the start of the war to deliver hundreds of pounds worth of aid to Ukrainians, said: ‘What I saw there broke my heart. I remember handing out hugs to a little kid who lost everything. What I saw there broke my heart.
“For that young girl, she’s seen a lot in Ukraine and she’s come here for a better life, and that’s what happened to her — it’s heartbreaking.”
Dawlish Mayor Councilor Lisa Mayne said: “Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to the family, friends and wider Ukrainian community in Dawlish at this heartbreaking time.”
Detective Inspector Becky Davies said: ‘We received a call on the evening of Saturday 4 March with reports of a 14-year-old girl missing from the Dawlish area.
‘With the support of the police helicopter and coast guard, a local search was carried out and an unconscious person was found on Dawlish Beach.
“She was then airlifted to the Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital where she later sadly died.”
Police are continuing their investigation along the Dawlish coastline
DI Davies added: ‘The girl who died was a Ukrainian citizen living in the Dawlish area; Contact has been made with the Ukrainian Embassy and The Home Office is also aware of this incident.
“This death is currently being treated as unexplained and further investigations into the circumstances surrounding this death are ongoing.
“Our thoughts are with the teenage girl’s family and friends at this tragic time.”
An autopsy will take place on Thursday.
Anyone with any information or CCTV/doorbell footage that could assist officers in their investigation is asked to contact email@example.com quoting case reference 50230052081.
MailOnline has contacted the Interior Ministry and Ukrainian Embassy for comment.