Pedestrians injured in London drama
11 injured but smash near tourist hotspot ‘not terror-related’
Elevenpeople were injured after a car mounted a pavement and knocked down pedestrians in one of London’s busiest tourist streets.
A massive police operation swung into action yesterday afternoon amid fears of a terror attack.
Scores of officers, many of them armed, swarmed to Exhibition Road, South Kensington, near the Natural History Museum, which was packed with tourists, evacuating hundreds of people and putting the area into lockdown.
But police later confirmed it was not a terror incident.
Nine people were taken to hospital after the smash involving a black Toyota Prius.
Last night, there were reports the driver had blacked out before the smash.
The London Ambulance Service said most of the casualties – which included the driver – were treated for head and leg injuries.
A Metropolitan Police spokesman said: “11 people were found at the scene with varying injuries and nine of them have been taken to hospital, and this includes the man that was detained by police.
“Their injuries are not believed to be life-threatening or life-changing.
“The man detained by officers is under arrest and is in custody at a north London police station.
“The incident is a road traffic investigation, not a terrorist-related incident.”
Eye-witnesses described chaos immediately following the crash with people “running and screaming”, fearful it was a terror attack.
American tourist Joseph Degraff, 23, who had been in a cafe on Exhibition Road, said: “We saw a large stampede of people running and thought, ‘what’s going on?’
“Someone who works in the cafe said ‘get on the ground’. We hit the floor. We were there for a few seconds, then they told everyone to get in the basement.
“At that point I thought it was a shooting or a bomb or something. We just didn’t know.
“The police told everyone to get out of the cafe and we got out and ran.”
Essex man Connor Honeyman told reporters he was in the queue for the museum. He added: “We heard a horrible thudding noise and a car engine. Everyone started running and screaming inside.”
Video footage circulating on social media showed the driver of the car being restrained on the ground following the crash. Other eyewitnesses praised the response from emergency workers who arrived at the scene within minutes.
Ellie Mackay, who lives in a flat above an underground station nearby, said: “I heard a couple of loud bangs.
“I thought there was a bomb on the underground. Within less than a minute the police were there.
“The whole situation was under control within minutes.”
Yesterday’s incident underlined the dangers pedestrians face from traffic in city-centres.
In 2014, six people were killed when bin lorry driver Harry Clarke blacked out at the wheel near Glasgow’s Queen Street train station.
Meanwhile, in 2010 two students – Mhairi Convy and Laura Stewart – were killed in Glasgow city centre when the driver of a Range Rover, William Payne, blacked out and mounted the kerb.
Footage shows a man being held by officers following the crash near the Natural History Museum. Left, the scene of the smash
Armed police patrol the area around Exhibition Road, as the scene is cordoned off amid initial fears of another terror attack in the capital