A SCHOOLGIRL has been left fighting for her life after being knocked down by a van in Cheltenham.
Ding Yuan, 12, a pupil at Bournside School, suffered severe head injuries after being hit by the vehicle in Alma Road, Up Hatherley.
She was airlifted to Frenchay Hospital following the collision, and as the Echo went to press last night her condition was described by police as "critical but stable".
Bournside headteacher Allan Foulds said staff had rushed to the scene of the accident as soon as they heard what had happened.
He said: "The thoughts and prayers of students, staff and governors at Bournside are with Ding Yuan and her family. We wish her a speedy and full recovery.
"I have been in contact with her family and offered them the school's full support.
"Staff attended the scene immediately after the incident and were there with the emergency services."
Pupils are understood to have been badly shaken as news of the crash filtered through.
The collision took place in Alma Road – a route used by many Bournside pupils on their way home – at around 3.20pm on Friday, shortly after classes finished for the day.
Concerned residents looked on as an air ambulance landed on playing fields belonging to nearby Dean Close School and paramedics took her away on a stretcher.
One resident said: "It was awful. There were so many blue flashing lights I knew it had to be really serious.
"It is not a particularly dangerous road but we do get big groups of school kids crossing the road on their way home. I just hope the girl pulls through."
The road was cordoned off for several hours as officers conducted their investigations.
The driver of the van, a green Bedford Rascal, is believed to have been treated for shock. No arrests have been made in connection with the incident.
Stuart Fowler, chairman of Up Hatherley Parish Council, drove past the scene of the crash moments after it took place.
He said: "There were three police cars there and an ambulance so it didn't look good.
"It's very sad and I do hope the girl pulls through. It will be a terrible shock for the other pupils who don't yet know about it."
He added that there had been problems on roads near the school in the past with large groups of children crossing the road in busy rush-hour traffic.
"It is something we have talked to the school and to the local PCSOs about," he said.
Police said Ding had sustained potentially life-threatening injuries and was in an induced coma last night.
Witnesses should call police on 101 quoting incident number 326 of November 23.