SCORES of floral tributes have been left to tragic schoolboy Matthew Hayes who was hit by a bus as he made his way home from school.
The 12-year-old had been crossing the road in Ryhope Street just before 3.30pm on Friday when he was struck by the Go North East Simplicity bus, just outside Asda.
Despite efforts from paramedics and other emergency services staff, the Venerable Bede CofE Academy pupil was pronounced dead at the scene.
Plans have been put in place to support staff and pupils as they return to school today.
Meanwhile, Matthew’s family have been laying heartfelt tributes to the youngster at the scene of the tragedy, including an emotional two-page letter from older sister Rehanna.
In it she said: “I shouldn’t be writing this, it shouldn’t be like this, 12-year-old, my baby brother, it doesn’t seem real.
“I woke up thinking you’d be there, playing on your PlayStation, screaming at me to get out your room, play fighting and running round the house with the Nerf guns.
“I’m physically heartbroken, I’m trying to stay strong for mam and dad but I just can’t get it into my head that you’re gone.”
Matthew’s uncle, Alan Hudson, visited the scene with the youngster’s gran, Pauline, and his granddad, also called Alan. “Everything is still really very raw right now,” said Alan jnr, 42, who is brother to Matthew’s dad Neil.
“We just need more information about who was here and what exactly happened and that will help us.”
Matthew’s family also thanked those who helped save him.
In a statement released through the police, the family said: “We would like to thank all the people who tried to save Matthew’s life on Friday.
“We know there were a lot of people at the scene, including Matthew’s schoolfriends, members of the public and all the emergency services. We know everyone did their best to try and save Matthew.”
Scores of friends have left flowers and notes for Matthew, who would have turned 13 on Christmas Eve.
Fellow Venerable Bede pupil Chloe Archibald, 12, said: “I was up on the back field near here when I heard from my friends what had happened.
“I didn’t know him that well but I spoke to him a couple of times and he was a really funny lad.”
Headteacher at the Tunstall Bank school, Gill Booth, said: “This is a tragedy and the academy family of staff, students, governors and parents are devastated to learn of Matthew’s death.
“We are a very close-knit school community and we are all in shock at the loss of such a young life.”
Chairman of governors at Venerable Bede School, Stuart Bain, described Matthew’s death as a “terrible, terrible tragedy”.
“Here was a 12-year-old boy with the whole of his life ahead of him,” said Mr Bain.
“As a school we have lost a great pupil, and our thoughts and prayers are very much with his family as they come to terms with this massive loss.
“What has happened is absolutely awful.”
Mr Bain added that school bosses are to offer counselling to children who have been affected by Matthew’s death.
“As a school, we are looking at how we can support staff and children as they come back in today,” he said.
“We will also be looking at holding some special services to remember Matthew as we move forward. Our thoughts are with his family and friends, and we offer them our prayers and deepest sympathy at this sad time.”
Inquiries into Friday’s tragedy are ongoing and police are appealing for any witnesses to contact them on 101 ext 69191, quoting reference 699 22/11/13.