THE PANIC AT MUSEUM
Ten hurt as car mounts pavement packed with tourists – sparking fear of terror attack
A DRIVER ploughed into pedestrians outside the Natural History Museum in London yesterday, causing panic and sparking fears of another terrorist attack.
The car swerved across the road and hit a cyclist before mounting a pavement crowded with tourists, injuring ten people before it smashed into a sign and a parked car.
The driver was wrestled to the ground by members of the public and pinned down until armed police and elite counterterrorism units rushed to the scene, shouting at families to ‘run and keep running’.
Terrified people ran down the busy streets, screaming and knocking over tables at pavement cafes, while hundreds more streamed out of nearby South Kensington Underground station as it was evacuated with alarm bells ringing.
Dazed and bloodied victims were treated by paramedics near the steps of the museum, with one woman having her leg bandaged and being placed in a wheelchair.
A young boy is thought to have been among the casualties.
At first, the incident was feared to be Britain’s seventh terrorist attack in just over six months, but the Metropolitan Police later said it was being treated as a traffic accident. Whitehall sources said the driver had passed out behind the wheel of his Toyota Prius and had been taken to hospital.
Greg King, a 22-year-old banker, said: ‘A black Toyota came ploughing straight towards us and the crowd. I heard tyres screeching and a lot of screaming and then a massive smash which was him hitting a sign.
‘He then turned and went smashing into the car on the other side of the road which stopped him.
‘People were sprinting in all directions and then it looked like a security guard from the museum and a member of the public were pinning him down. He had blood in his mouth so I assume they smashed him down on the ground.’
Damien Hackett added: ‘The police charged at us shouting “Get out of here! Run and don’t stop running.” These police obviously thought the threat had escalated. People started running for their lives.’
The accident took place on Exhibition Road, close to the worldrenowned Natural History Museum, V&A and Science Museum that are always teeming with visitors on a Saturday afternoon. The accident occurred about 2.15pm. The driver, who is registered as a private hire driver with Transport for London, fled his car but was tackled by members of the public.
Last night, singer Pixie Lott’s fiance claimed on social media that he hauled the driver to the ground. Model Oliver Cheshire, 29, wrote on Twitter: ‘Thanks for messaging everybody. I’m OK. Thank you to the men who helped me pin him down and the police for coming so quickly.’ Jason Holker, 32, and his wife Whitney were about 50 yards away when they heard three loud bangs, then saw the driver being held. In the mayhem, with crowds rushing in panic, the couple took shelter in Hyde Park Chapel, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mr Holker, from California, said: ‘We were walking outside as it happened. Hundreds of people were screaming and running.
‘According to the missionaries we spoke to, the driver tried to run and people tackled him in a sort of citizens’ arrest.
‘Other people were surrounding him, holding him down on the ground. I saw five or six people holding him down and that was before the police got there.’
Maria Hansen, who was leaving South Kensington Tube station, said: ‘There was total panic, people were running into the station screaming, “Get inside, get inside.”’
Her sister-in-law Turid Hansen, visiting from Denmark, told how ambulances sped past her and added: ‘People were standing
‘Get out of here... run and don’t stop running’
around crying. I couldn’t see the injured. I didn’t want to.’
Emanuel Houk was in a restaurant on Exhibition Road when the drama unfolded. He said: ‘All of a sudden all the clients in the restaurant just hit the floor.
‘There were all these people on Exhibition Road running… people were just panicking and running.’
The Met Police said last night: ‘The incident is a road traffic investigation and not a terrorist-related incident.’ The London Ambulance Service said: ‘We treated 11 patients, mostly for leg and head injuries, and took nine of them to hospital.’ Last night, there was another terror scare at Euston station in Central London. The busy rail and Tube station was evacuated after a ‘security alert’, British Transport Police said. Passengers feared a terrorist was at large, prompting screaming and a stampede for the exits. The station was reopened at 7pm after nothing suspicious was found.
PINNED DOWN: The driver is held. Model Oliver Cheshire – the fiance of singer Pixie Lott – is pictured left, on the phone TRAUMATIC: A woman is comforted at the scene EXHIBITION Car crash here Natural History Museum POPULAR AREA: The path of the Toyota Prius WARNINGS: A counter-terrorism officer