7/7 victim shielded from blast by luggage

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The Independent Online

An academic was partially shielded from the force of the Edgware Road bomb blast by the luggage at his feet, an inquest heard today.

Professor John Tulloch told the inquest into 52 deaths in the London terror attacks how he had been sitting with his roller case, cabin bag and laptop bag ready to leave the carriage when the device detonated.

Prof Tulloch said he had just returned from Australia and was trying to get to Paddington to travel to Cardiff.

Recalling the moment of impact, he said: "I had my three bags because I wanted to be out the door first. Almost instantly something quite severe happened.

"I had no recollection, I didn't ... hear anything, but there was a strong yellow to deep orange colour - the whole carriage was this colour.

"I briefly saw the carriage and the best way to describe it was, it seemed it was being stretched and pulled. I don't recall seeing anything flying about."

He said he thought he lost consciousness then remembered lying on his back on the remnants of a seat or rubble, surrounded by glass and darkness.

Prof Tulloch said he had blood on his face and remembered feeling his face, before becoming aware of two injured American women in the carriage, identified as sisters Kathleen and Emily Benton.

He said: "As soon as I saw the American ladies in that condition, I think the whole adrenaline cut in, I started feeling my legs. I seemed to have forgotten all about the pain in my head and could see my legs were there.

"I wouldn't say it was a feeling of euphoria, but it was a very good, very positive feeling which focused me on those legs and got me up from my seat."

He recalled seeing a male body in the crater inside the carriage.

"I could see the top half of his body and the arms seemed to be apart. I thought this person was dead."

Prof Tulloch, who said he had previously experienced an IRA bombing, recounted seeing silhouettes of standing people in another carriage scrabbling at the windows.

He described how another passenger began talking to him and "dragged me back into the real world". He asked what he did for a living and worked out he was an academic.

Prof Tulloch said: "I remember he talked to me about what his daughter was doing in her A-levels and the universities she was thinking of applying to. This was so deeply embedded and grabbed me so strongly I can almost reel off to this day what four universities those were.

"He also asked me about my sons in Australia and that focused me."

He recalled being concerned about the whereabouts of a memory stick in his bag.

He was then helped through from the second carriage into the third, adding: "I remember being struck by how pristine it appeared."

He was put on a stretcher and assessed as a priority three casualty.

Prof Tulloch said he still had shrapnel marks and shrapnel inside his head which he needed to be mindful of.

He also experienced damage to both ear drums and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.