11-year-old Filipina gymnast killed in UK car crash

Don Kevin Hapal

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11-year-old Filipina gymnast killed in UK car crash
Tributes flow for Marianne Haboc, who was fatally hit by a car while she was on her way home from school

MANILA, Philippines – An 11-year-old Filipina gymnast was killed after getting hit by a car on her way home from school in Rochester, Greater Manchester in the United Kingdom on Monday, October 1.

According to the Philippine Embassy in London, Marianne Haboc, known as MJ by family and friends, died on the spot despite efforts from paramedics to save her.

A 33-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving but was later on released under investigation, BBC News reported.

Haboc was a member of the Rochdale Olympic Gymnastics Club and was on her final year at St Patrick’s Primary School. 

TRIBUTE. Haboc's friends, schoolmates, and teachers offer tributes at the scene of the tragic car crash that took her life. Photo courtesy of the Philippine Embassy in London

‘Little superstar’

Paying tribute to Haboc, her parents said that their “beautiful daughter was a  natural born leader that could motivate friends to unite and do the same together regardless of age, race or belief.”

Because of this, Haboc used to go to school early “so she could meet more young pupils to play with and to improve her proactiveness and relationship to them and her teacher.”

Haboc’s friends, schoolmates, and teachers also left flowers, letters, and gifts at the scene of the crash.

The Rochdale Olympic Gymnastics Club set up a fundraising page in Haboc’s memory. “RIP little superstar, No words can describe how we all feel tonight!  Fly high,” the club wrote in their tribute.

The Philippine Embassy in London has reached out to MJ’s family through her father, and is now coordinating with local authorities and the Filipino community in Rochdale for developments on the case.

“The Embassy grieves with the Haboc family on the painful loss of their precious daughter,” Ambassador Antonio Lagdameo said.   

“The Embassy sends its deepest condolences to Marianne’s family. We encourage the Filipino community in the United Kingdom to reach out to the Haboc family to offer comfort and support to the family in these difficult times,” he added. – Rappler.com 

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Don Kevin Hapal

Don Kevin Hapal is Rappler’s Head of Data and Innovation. He started at Rappler as a digital communications specialist, then went on to lead Rappler’s Balikbayan section for overseas Filipinos. He was introduced to data journalism while writing and researching about social media, disinformation, and propaganda.