The family of one of two young athletes who died on a training run in Hampshire after they were hit by a soldier suspected of drink-driving have described their daughter as an “absolute joy”.
The two girls were struck as they crossed a road in Aldershot on Tuesday evening.
A 24-year-old man arrested in connection with the crash has been confirmed by the Army as a serving soldier.
The soldier was detained on suspicion of two offences of causing death by dangerous driving, two offences of death by careless driving through drink or drugs and the offence of drink-driving.
He was released on Wednesday evening on conditional bail until February 14, 2017.
The two victims, both members of Aldershot, Farnham and District (AFD) Athletic Club, have been named as 17-year-old Lucy Pygott, from Hartley Wintney, and 16-year-old Stacey Burrows from Farnborough.
The family of Lucy said in a statement released through Hampshire police: “Lucy was an absolute joy to us and we feel lucky that she has been part of our family for 17 years.”
Team-mate Hannah Jacobs, 18, said: “They were very committed and motivated athletes; it’s so tragic what has happened.”
Her twin, Grace, added: “Everyone is shocked. My dad said his original thought was that a bomb has gone off, it was that loud.”
Luke Wilton, 17, said: “They would represent the club nationally and for Hampshire. They were such admirable people. They were so bright, they had a bright future.”
Alanna Goddard, also 17, said: “They were very good runners, very enthusiastic, not a bad bone in their body, just lovely, lovely girls, both of them.”
The team-mates, who visited the crash scene to leave flowers, said the victims were long-distance cross-country runners set to represent the club in competition in Spain next weekend and were doing a warm-up run at the start of their training session when the accident happened.
Well-wishers have left messages on social media, including Olympian Eilish McColgan, who posted on Twitter: “Awful news coming from Aldershot this morning. Thoughts go out to family, friends and fellow team mates at AFD.”
Hampshire Constabulary said the girls were hit by a black Ford Focus in Queen’s Avenue shortly after 7.10pm on Tuesday.
Simon Jarvis, principal of Farnborough Sixth Form College, confirmed that the two girls were students there. He said counsellors had been brought in to support students and staff and books of remembrance and condolence were being opened.
He said: “The thoughts and sympathies of the entire college community are with the families and friends of the two girls who have experienced this terrible loss.”
Liam Owers, 16, who was Stacey’s classmate, said: “She was the smartest but she would never boast, she would always help other people. She was so amazing at her running but she never let it go to her head, she was always focusing on her future and to do the best she could.”
Molly Kay, 17, said: “It’s such a terrible thing to happen to such a happy person. It happened while she was doing what she loved which is the only positive thing I can find from this.”
Niels de Vos, chief executive of UK Athletics, said on behalf of the governing body: “My heart goes out to the family and friends of those affected at this difficult time.
“All at UK Athletics send our deepest sympathies, this is a tragedy which will be felt across the athletics community.”