'Heroic' 7/7 commuter tried to save passenger's life

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A "heroic" commuter described today how he tried in vain to save the life of a female passenger left gravely injured in the July 7 bombings.

Steve Hucklesby told an inquest into the London terror attacks how as a passenger of the train next to the bombed carriage at Edgware Road he climbed through to reach those left severely injured.

Recalling the moment of the blast, he said: "There was a loud bang and a jolt and the train quickly came to a stop.

"There was much alarm and fairly quickly the carriage started to fill with smoke. There was some confusion as to what was going on and where the smoke was coming from."

Messages were broadcast telling passengers to remain calm and remain where they were.

He said: "The bombed carriage stopped next to our carriage. We couldn't see into that carriage very easily because the lights were on in our train and they were off in the other train."

Mr Hucklesby remembered hearing screams and cries for help and that passengers then tried to open the doors to access the affected train.

He said: "Two people said let's smash a window and see if we can get into that carriage and they found some wooden implements and together smashed the window."

Mr Hucklesby, who had some first aid training, described how once through the window, he saw a large crater in which one person was trapped in the wreckage and three other people trying to deal with that person.

He said: "The person injured appeared to be losing consciousness. His eyes were closing and his head was slumped forward."

Mr Hucklesby used overhead rails to manoeuvre himself and said he saw the body of a female with her legs severed and missing from the thigh down and her upper torso covered underneath debris.

Asked if he could have seen two males, he replied: "I would say it is possible. The image is not as fresh in my mind as when I gave my witness statement."

Mr Hucklesby recalled seeing two people lying on the carriage floor.

Describing the second person, he said: "It was the body of a young woman. The body was very, very pale. Most of her clothing had been blown off. She was motionless. Her eyes were open. Her jaw was open and relaxed."

He said he placed his head close to her body to try to achieve a response.

He said: "I examined her eye and I could see no movement from the pupil."

He added: "I put my hand to her nose and mouth to try and detect if there was breathing. I may have done the same with my cheek to detect breathing. I couldn't detect any breathing."

Mr Hucklesby attempted CPR as four women in the train from which he had come looked on through the window, with one, a first aider encouraging him.

He tilted her jaw upwards and opened her airway to apply breaths.

He added: "I couldn't imagine anyone managing to shock this person back to life... It was quite clear at that point sadly nothing could be done."

A member of London Underground staff asked if the woman, identified as Laura Webb, had a pulse, he replied: "No."

He said: "At that point, the women on the train were quite distressed. For them that was the point at which hope had been extinguished."

Mr Hucklesby recalled how he asked an LU staff member who arrived, for urgent medical assistance.

He then went to the aid of another injured passenger Matthew Childs who had sustained an injury to his ankle and lower right leg and was left standing on his left leg.

He asked Mr Childs to put his weight on him to move him and make him comfortable.

It was at this point another LU staff member provided a bottle of water.

He said: "I said 'Thank you very much, but it's not water we need. We need urgent medical assistance'. He ran back so fast he tripped in a hole in the floor."

He remained with Mr Childs until a doctor assessed him.

He said: "They were obviously having to prioritise who they dealt with at this stage, though after that they were able to attend to Matt putting up a drip. Only when they started tending to him I got out of their way."

Paying tribute to Mr Hucklesby following his evidence, Coroner Lady Justice Hallett said: "You may not like the word 'heroic', but I'm sorry, you're going to have to forgive me. I have to use it because I can't think of any other word to describe what you did. So thank you so much for everything you did and thank you for coming along to assist us."

Lady Justice Hallett added: "The way in which he got into that carriage and tried to help so many desperate people was simply amazing."