7/7 survivor in tribute to off-duty Pc who saved her life

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A woman who lost both her legs in the 7/7 attacks today paid emotional tribute to the off-duty policewoman who saved her life.

Martine Wright said she would have died in the bombing at Aldgate station in London if Pc Elizabeth Kenworthy had not applied a makeshift tourniquet to stem her bleeding.

She said: "People like that don't come around that often and if it wasn't for her I would be dead. It's a very special relationship I have with her."

Ms Wright, who is now a 2012 Paralympics hopeful, was herself hailed as "truly inspirational" today by the coroner hearing the inquests for the 52 victims of the atrocities.

Pc Kenworthy, who received an MBE for her bravery that day, relived her panicked wait for rescuers as she battled to keep alive Ms Wright and fellow passenger Andrew Brown, who also lost his legs in the attack.

She told the inquests it was more than half-an-hour after the blast before the emergency services arrived.

The Metropolitan Police constable was in the fourth carriage of the eastbound Circle Line train when suicide bomber Shehzad Tanweer detonated his bomb in the second carriage at 8.50am on July 7, 2005.

Nobody around her was hurt and at first she just tried to reassure the other passengers.

But on hearing people shouting for help from the front of the train, she produced her police warrant card and walked through in the darkness to the bombed carriage.

Pc Kenworthy, who had only completed a basic first aid course, described how she used her corduroy jacket to slow the blood pouring from Mr Brown's left leg.

"It wasn't very good but it was the best thing I could do. I wouldn't even really describe it as a tourniquet - it was more of a dressing or binding just to stop him from bleeding to death," she said.

The officer then tied a belt around Ms Wright's leg and waited for paramedics to arrive.

She said: "I looked at my watch after I had done the initial first aid. I looked at 9.05, then I looked at 9.10.

"By 9.20 I was starting to think, 'where are they?' I was starting to worry by that time.

"By that time I had nothing else to do apart from comfort them and wonder when help was going to arrive."

She saw other passengers escaping out of the tunnel past the bombed carriage but there did not appear to be any officials with them.

Some time after 9.20am a police sergeant reached her, followed soon afterwards by firefighters and paramedics.

Pc Kenworthy said: "Once they arrived I felt that I had done all I could. I was beginning to flag, I had breathed in a lot of dirt myself and I thought, 'well, they're experts, they have the equipment, they can deal with it now'.

"I didn't really want to leave Mr Brown and Ms Wright because I wanted to make sure that they were all right, but I felt that I would be in the way by that time."

After the policewoman completed her evidence, the coroner, Lady Justice Hallett, told her: "To respond in the way that you did takes a very exceptional person and I am sure that there are at least two people, if not more, who have every reason to be grateful to you.

"I am sure you thoroughly deserved the MBE."

Ms Wright, 38, from Tring, Hertfordshire, described to the inquests how she lost three-quarters of her blood in the bombing.

She was one of the last people to be pulled alive from the Aldgate train and spent nine months undergoing major operations at the Royal London Hospital and learning to walk again at Queen Mary's Hospital in Roehampton.

The survivor, who gave evidence today under her married name Martine Wiltshire, is now a member of the Great Britain women's sitting volleyball team and hopes to compete at the 2012 London Paralympics.

Lady Justice Hallett told her: "Your story is truly inspirational - the triumph of human spirit over dreadful adversity. I wish you every success in the Paralympics."

Speaking outside the court, Ms Wright said it was hard for her to relive the day of the attacks in her evidence but she felt it was her duty to be there.

She said: "We live in a world where we know that something like this is going to happen again so if we can learn anything from this process then it is all worthwhile.

"There are families in there who have lost their loved ones and if I can piece together anything for them I hope it will help."

Mr Brown, who was sitting next to Ms Wright in the second carriage of the Aldgate train, described how he felt for his leg only to discover it had been blown off.

He was working at John Lennon Airport in Liverpool at the time, and travelled to London on July 7 for a meeting of the Airport Operators Association in Westminster.

After the blast he lost consciousness for 15 minutes and at first thought he had been electrocuted when he came round, only realising how badly wounded he was when he attempted to help others.

Mr Brown told the inquests: "At the time I wasn't feeling any pain. I felt as if I was fine and I tried to stand up to help them and at that point I just fell forward into the debris.

"I managed to regain my seat and lifted my right leg to find out why I had fallen over, and my leg had gone.

"Then inevitably I was just resigned to sitting there and waiting for help."

Another survivor of the Aldgate bombing said she had to wait an hour before an ambulance arrived to take her to hospital.

Cynthia Chetty, who was trapped under debris and suffered head injuries in the blast, said she was helped off the train by a fellow passenger and did not see any London Underground staff until she reached the station platform.

Fellow passenger Bruce Lait, a professional dancer from Ipswich, Suffolk, described how he tried to comfort badly-injured solicitor Fiona Stevenson, 29, by squeezing her hand right up until she died.

He said he was shocked by the rough way a paramedic moved Ms Stevenson's body to allow him out of the bombed carriage.

The hearing at the Royal Courts of Justice in London was adjourned until tomorrow.