British girl, 4, dies on Florida beach

A four-year-old girl from Nottingham has died after being hit by a car on a Florida beach.

Ellie Bland was walking alongside her great-uncle on Daytona beach when she was struck by a car on Saturday. The vehicle is believed to have been travelling under the 10mph speed limit at the point of impact.

Onlookers had shouted for the driver to stop as the girl lay in front of the vehicle. But officials claim that after coming to a halt, the driver appeared to panic and advance forward, running the girl over and killing her instantly. "For an unknown reason, the driver panicked and hit the accelerator instead of the brake," police said.

The girl's great-uncle, John Langlands, 53, told The Daytona Beach News Journal that the car, a silver Lincoln, had come "barrelling down" on the pair, giving him no time to pull Ellie out of the way.

The driver has been named as Barbara Worley, 66, from Elberton, Georgia. An investigation is underway, though police said no charges have yet been filed.

The death is likely to intensify calls for a ban on the practice of driving on Daytona beach, a tradition dating back to the early days of the automobile. The highway patrol said it was not unheard of for people to be injured by cars on the beach, though the Journal claimed it was Florida's first beach traffic death for 14 years.

Ellie was on her sixth trip to Florida, accompanied by her five-year-old sister, her great-aunt, great-uncle and family friends.

Yesterday a Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We can confirm the death of a British national in Florida on 20 March. The next of kin have been informed and we are providing them with assistance."