THE PANIC AT MU­SEUM

Ten hurt as car mounts pave­ment packed with tourists – spark­ing fear of ter­ror at­tack

The Scottish Mail on Sunday - - News - By Martin Beck­ford, Mark Ni­col and Si­mon Mur­phy

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.

Vic­to­ria and Al­bert Mu­seum

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

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