Warning follows girl's drug death

Police today warned youngsters and their parents about post-exam summer celebrations after a 16-year-old girl died of a suspected drug overdose.

Serena Harding was a teenager with "everything to look forward to in her life" police said, but was found unconscious close to a bench by a couple walking in parkland in Reddish, Stockport, around 10.50pm last night.

Ambulance and police were called to the scene, close to Reddish Vale animal farm, an area where a large number of young people tend to congregate.

Paramedics fought to revive Miss Harding at the scene, near Reddish Vale Road, but the youngster died in hospital.

Police have not yet established what drug Miss Harding had taken or if it caused the death of the former pupil of Culcheth High School near Warrington, Cheshire. Further tests are being carried out.

Officers believe she left her home in Warrington, yesterday afternoon to travel to Stockport and during the evening was "in company" with five people arrested in connection with her death.

Four men aged 20, 19, 19 and 18 and a 25-year-old woman are being questioned in relation to drug offences.

They were spoken to by officers at the scene where Miss Harding was found.

Chief Inspector Mark Hussey, from Greater Manchester Police, said: "Clearly it's a very tragic incident for the family. My thoughts go out to them today.

"The full circumstances of the teenager's death have not yet been established, however, we believe she may have taken a controlled substance.

"There's a number of issues around young people and experimentation.

"It's a time when there's a certain sense of relief amongst young people of that age who have finished their exams and again, long summer holidays.

He added: "At this time of year with GCSE and A-level results due, many young people will be in celebratory spirit and there will no doubt be many parties being held where there may be opportunities for them to experiment with drugs and alcohol.

"I would like to remind them to be mindful of the potentially fatal and damaging effects taking drugs can have and to say no if they are offered to them.

"Yes it is OK to enjoy yourself and have a good time, but to experiment with drugs or alcohol to excess is extremely dangerous."

Mr Hussey appealed for anyone with information about drug dealing in the local area to come forward by calling police on 0161 856 9987 or the independent charity Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555 111.

Source: PA

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