A TIGHT-KNIT community is in mourning after a teenage boy died on a country road as he cycled home with friends.

Connor Shields, 14, was airlifted to hospital following the collision on the A975 Cruden Bay to Newburgh road in Aberdeenshire.

He had been cycling home to Ellon with a group of friends when the accident, involving a brown Volvo XC90, happened at a crossroads at around 6pm on Wednesday.

Connor, a pupil of Ellon Academy, was taken to Aberdeen Royal Infirmary where he died.

Tim McKay, rector at Ellon Academy, paid tribute to the popular pupil.

Mr McKay said: "Connor was a kind and thoughtful young man who will be sorely missed by staff and pupils at the school.

"He was very bright and combined his academic studies with his love of sport, particularly rugby. Our thoughts are very much with his parents, sister and other family members at this difficult time."

It is understood Connor was in a group of around five or six cyclists passing Slains Primary School near the turn-off for the small fishing village of Collieston at the time of the accident.

Residents of the village spoke of their shock at the boy's death, and said they had raised their fears over the safety of the road.

Nicole Bell, 37, said: "It's every parent's worst nightmare. There are so many kids riding in on their bikes every day to play here. It's horrific – there are no words to describe it.

"We've been on at the council about that junction for ages.

"It's hard enough to see what's coming when you are in the car."

Another man who lives within 100 yards of the crossroads where the teenager was killed said that a group of children passed his house just before the accident. 

Robyn MacGregor, 34, said: "It was a group of young lads just enjoying their summer holidays. It's really sad. It's a terrible junction. It's hard to see out of."

Another villager, who did not want to be named, said the village was a popular summer holiday spot for youngsters from around the area.

He said: "There was a group of young children at the beach yesterday, I assume that was them.

"It's a real shame."

Local councillor Rob Merson led the condolences for the family of the Ellon Academy pupil.

Mr Merson said: "My heartfelt sympathy and condolences go to Connor's family, for whom this will be a devastating shock.  

"There can be no loss worse than the life of one so young, and we must wait for the outcome of the accident investigation to see what lessons might be learned from this tragic incident."

Fellow councillor Isobel Davidson added: "I'm very sad to hear about Connor's death in a tragic accident. 

"My thoughts are with his family."

The 59-year-old male driver of the Volvo, who was driving north at the time of the accident, was not injured.

The road was closed for around six hours while collision investigators carried out an examination of the scene.

Inspector Ewan Innes, from the Aberdeenshire Road Policing Unit, said: "Our thoughts and condolences go out to the boy's family and friends at this very distressing time. Our enquiries are at an early stage and at this time it is too early to speculate as to the cause of the collision."