THE distraught father of a three-year-old girl hit by a van metres from her front door has described how her death has left him "empty and lost".
Olivia Langley's pushchair is thought to have been blown into an access road outside her home in Woburn Court on Monday and into the path of a delivery vehicle.
An inquest was told on Thursday that her mother, Louise Uffindell, went into her home to get something and, to her horror, came back outside to discover the van had collided with the buggy.
Speaking to the Advertiser, Olivia's father, Stewart Langley, said he felt "totally lost" without her.
He said: "I have been in a daze since it happened. It's hard to explain how I feel, I just can't believe my little girl is gone."
Miss Uffindell desperately tried to revive her daughter before she was taken to St George's Hospital, in Tooting, having suffered a cardiac arrest. Olivia was pronounced dead at 10.03am.
Mr Langley, 31, a scaffolder, said: "I was at work when I heard.
"I had a missed call from Louise and another one from her mum. Then I received a text saying I had to call them urgently.
"They said Olivia had been hit by a van and taken to St George's, so I went straight there. While I was on the way I got a another call explaining they had lost her.
"When they told me I felt empty, totally empty.
"I've tried to work out how it happened but I can't get my head around it. I must have driven to the house a million times. I can't understand how something like this could happen.
"All I can think is that it's a freak accident like people have said.
"Louise is an amazing mum. I know there's nothing she could have done."
Mr Langley described Olivia as a "princess" who loved watching television, especially her favourite programme Peppa Pig.
He said: "Olivia was an absolutely beautiful little girl. She was also a typical little girl – a bossy boots.
"She used to boss me about all the time, but I didn't mind because she was an adorable princess too. She was so likeable."
Mr Langley lives with his partner Ashleigh Sharp and their two children, Charles and Jessica, in South Croydon. He last saw Olivia on Saturday.
He said: "The kids adored her, particularly Charlie, and she loved them as well.
"I know she was young but you could tell she felt like a big sister to them."
Olivia was on her way to Woodside Primary School and Children's Centre when the tragedy occurred.
"She loved it there because she was a very sociable and outgoing child for her age," said Mr Langley.
"I want to say thank you to all our friends and family.
"They probably think we don't appreciate their support because we haven't been able to reply to everyone's messages, but we're very grateful."
A 36-year-old man, who works for delivery company DPD, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by careless driving and taken to a south London police station.
He was bailed later that evening to return at a date in early May pending further inquiries.
DPD expressed its "deepest sympathy" and said it would cooperate with the police investigation.
The collision is being investigated by officers from the Road Death Investigation Unit at the Met's Catford Traffic Garage.
Detective Sergeant Matt Austin told Croydon Coroner's Court the van driver had told police he was reversing his vehicle "very slowly" at the time.
Anyone who witnessed what happened has been urged to call the police on 02082 851574.