TRIBUTES have been paid to a “beautiful young lady” who died after crashing her car.

Megan Harding-Jones, 18, from Epping, died on Saturday, April 15, when her Volkswagen Polo left the road near Bobbingworth Mill at 3:30am and ended up in a nearby field.

The A414 junction near North Weald was shut for nearly six hours while the area was investigated.

Ashlea Silk-Jones was close friends with Megan despite being two years above her when they went to Brentwood County High School.

Ashlea was driving when her mother rang to give her the news.

The 20-year-old said: “At first I didn’t believe it. I thought it must be a mistake. It eventually hit me and I just flooded with tears. I just keep thinking of the good memories we had.

“Megan was a lovely, beautiful young lady and she got on with absolutely everyone.

“She was very down to Earth and easy going. The nicest girl I had ever met.”

Ashlea was driving when her mother rang to give her the news. She pulled over and could not believe it.

Megan and Ashlea both worked at Brook Farm Equestrian Training Centre in Stapleford Abbotts, where they worked together training and tending horses.

Ashlea added: “She was a talented horse rider who always had a good bond with all horses. Megan was always really happy. Sometimes she had a lot to do in one day and she also worked elsewhere, but she always stayed very calm and positive.

“Everyone loved Megan and commented on her good riding. Everyday she would make me laugh and smile.”

The pair knew each other from a young age, but became closer friends after a party.

Ashlea said: “We knew each other from a young age because of horses. We used to see each other at shows and have a chat from about 11 years old.

“We first properly bonded about two years ago. Her cousin had a halloween party and Megs dressed up as an avatar. She was completely blue and even had a tail.

“One day I heard she was no longer working, so I asked if she wanted to be a member of our team. From then on, we became really close.”

Megan's parents said: "It is with great sadness that Perry and Katharine Harding-Jones announce the tragic death of their beautiful and much loved daughter Megan in a road traffic accident on Saturday 15th April. No other people or vehicles were involved.

"Megan was a fun loving, vivacious teenager who was passionately devoted to equestrian life.

"An accomplished and talented rider; Megan loved her horses and competed in local and national equestrian events.

"Any words are inadequate to express the deep loss felt by Megan's family and friends at such a sad and difficult time. 

"With this in mind, the family hopes and trusts that their privacy will be respected in the days and weeks ahead.” 

Samantha Rose paid tribute on Facebook. She said: “We will never truly understand why God works the way he does. We just have to trust he has better plans for you. I’m very lucky to have known you and watched you grow into such a nice young lady.”

Caroline Furneaux also said: “My deepest sympathy goes out to the Harding-Jones family. I had the great privilege of teaching Megan in year three at St Nicks and still clearly remember her lovely smiling face and passion for horses even at such an early age. RIP Megan.”

Essex Police are appealing for witnesses and anyone with any dashcam footage or CCTV are asked to call 01245240590.