Family's tribute to tragic Daniel

THE family of a boy killed by a falling tree branch have spoken of their devastation at the “one in a million chance” freak accident.Eleven-year-old Daniel Mullinger, of Stanway, near Colchester, died when part of a tree fell on him during a school trip in Norfolk.

THE family of a boy killed by a falling tree branch have spoken of their devastation at the “one in a million chance” freak accident.

Eleven-year-old Daniel Mullinger, of Stanway, near Colchester, died when part of a tree fell on him during a school trip in Norfolk.

His grandparents have told of their grief at the accident, which happened around 3pm on Tuesday while he and fellow pupils from Heathlands Primary School, in West Bergholt visited the grounds of Felbrigg Hall, near Cromer.

It has also emerged Daniel's best friend, also 11, was left with pelvic and internal injuries. He was described as being in a critical condition.


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A 10-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl, also hit by the branch, suffered minor injuries and were said to be “comfortable”.

Daniel's grandfather, Cliff Mullinger, 70, of Colchester, said: “It was a freak accident. The branch could have fallen on absolutely anyone.

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“We would like to know what happened but it's not going to bring him back. It sounds like it happened so quickly.

“He was really looking forward to this trip. It's a one in a million chance of this sort of thing happening and you can't stop it.

“I hate to think other children would be stopped going on trips like this because of what has happened.

“You can't blame the teachers. They must be absolutely distraught. They were there when it happened and I can't imagine how they must feel.

“It's not as though Daniel was taking any risks. He was just sheltering from the rain.”

Mr Mullinger said the family had recently been on holiday to Cyprus for the wedding of his daughter, Christine, 31, to James, 30.

“We had such a wonderful time in Cyprus. It was the first time we'd had a family holiday like that,” he said.

“Daniel said it was the best holiday he'd ever had. You couldn't help but like him. He was very intelligent and a lot of fun.”

Mr Mullinger said the family were rallying round Daniel's parents, Stephen and Wendy, both 39, and helping to look after Daniel's eight-year-old sister, Lucy.

Hilda Mullinger, 67, Daniel's grandmother, said the boy critically injured in the accident was Daniel's best friend.

She added: “We're devastated. It's such a shock. You don't expect it to happen.

“If a child is ill you perhaps expect an outcome like that but this was a healthy child enjoying himself.”

John Watts, headteacher of Heathlands Primary School, said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those concerned. We are devastated by this terrible accident.

“The teachers did everything they could in the circumstances, together with the staff of the Aylmerton Field Study Centre.

“This was a tragic accident involving the collapse of a bough in a tree at a centre where there had been no major injuries in 19 years.

“Daniel Mullinger was a lovely boy from a kind and loving family who cared for all those around him. He enjoyed all school events and was a boy of tremendous capabilities.

“Daniel was an unassuming, shy boy who was willing to have a go at everything. He will be sorely missed by staff and children alike and was a credit to Heathlands.”

He said the school's thoughts also went out to the other three children who were injured and the whole school was praying for their speedy recovery.

“The school and its staff are working closely with police and the Health and Safety Executive to make sure this tragic incident is investigated thoroughly and that everyone involved is properly supported,” he added.

The Heathlands pupils were staying in Norfolk as part of a course run by the centre.

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