The family of an 11-year-old schoolgirl who died at a theme park have said they are “devastated that we will not see our beautiful little girl again”.
Evha Jannath, from Leicester, fell out of a boat on the Splash Canyon ride during a school trip to the Tamworth-based theme park on Tuesday.
Staffordshire Police said Evha was recovered from the water and received advanced life support from ambulance crews before she was flown to Birmingham Children’s Hospital where she later died.
In a statement issued through police, the family said: “Yesterday our world was torn apart by the news that our daughter and sister Evha, had lost her life in tragic circumstances, following a school trip to Drayton Manor Park.
“Evha was a beautiful little girl who was full of love and always smiling.
“Words cannot describe the pain and loss we feel, we are devastated that we will not see our beautiful little girl again.
“We ask that you allow us to grieve in private and deal with our loss as a family.”
Drayton Manor Theme Park will remain shut on Wednesday as a mark of respect, and while investigators from the Health and Safety Executive continue their work.
Jameah Academy, an integrated Islamic day school for girls, will also remain closed for the day, with counselling being offered to pupils affected by the tragedy.
Zainab Mohammad, whose 16-year-old sister went on the trip, said the tight-knit school community had been left devastated by the tragedy.
Speaking to reporters near the academy, the 26-year-old said: “It’s tragic. We don’t know what the cause is but what we really want is for the family to be able to grieve.
“A family member has been ripped from their family and it’s a big loss. Everybody is in utter shock, there are no words.
“I couldn’t sleep last night, thinking of this.”
Asked how her sister was coping after the death, Ms Mohammad added: “She came home, she spoke to mum and dad and she just went upstairs.
“She was devastated.
“She didn’t want to talk about it. Nobody knows what’s happened, we can’t speculate on what has happened.”
She also urged people not to speculate about the incident on Facebook and other social media.
Ms Mohammad said: “The school is not very big, everybody knows each other.
“It’s really sad for the kids.”
According to one parent at the Jameah Academy, the girl fell from one of the boats when it hit a rock.
She told the Mail Online: “When the girl got up to change seats just then it hit a rock and she got knocked out of the boat and fell in the water and the water currents dragged her in.”
The parent, who asked not to be named, said the girl disappeared from view after falling from the ride.
Drayton Manor’s company director George Bryan, whose grandfather opened the park in the 1950s, said they were “truly shocked and devastated” by the death.
He appeared shaken as he read a statement at the park on Tuesday afternoon in which he said specially-trained staff were on the scene “immediately” after the alarm was raised.
The ride, which opened in 1993, and features up to 21 boats each with a capacity of six people, was closed following the incident.
Offering a “a wild ride” with “fast-flowing rapids”, riders must be at least 0.9m (3ft) tall, although those under 1.1m must be accompanied by an adult.
Jameah Academy said in a statement of “deepest sadness” on its website: “As a school community we are deeply shocked and our thoughts are with our pupil’s family and friends.
“The school will ensure specially trained staff are in school to provide our pupils and staff support at this difficult time.
“We would request that the family and the school community are given time to grieve.
“Please be assured that the safety and wellbeing of our pupils is our foremost priority.
“We are liaising with the relevant authorities and therefore we are unable to provide any further information at this time.”