Five years on, the stories of London's 52 bomb victims are told at last

Inquest hears of those who died, and those who tried to save them
Click to follow
The Independent Online

In the immediate aftermath of the 7/7 bombings in London – amid the terrifying darkness of the Tube network – commuters came together to try to save their fellow passengers. Yesterday, at the inquest into the deaths of the 52 innocent people killed in the attacks, their stories were finally told.

During the second day of the inquest, personal details about the lives of all of the victims and exactly how they met their deaths were listed by Hugo Keith QC, the counsel for the coroner. As he went through the names of the deceased, he also made mention of several brave passengers who risked their own lives to go to the aid of their fellow commuters. They were, Mr Keith said, "acts of remarkable heroism and human fortitude".

The bombings began at 8.49am on 7 July 2005, with the first blast at Aldgate. The court heard that the Circle line train was moving at 10-15mph when its driver, Timothy Batkin, heard a "muffled thud". Mr Batkin, unable to use his temperamental train radio, quickly used his own mobile phone to alert those above ground to the tragedy unfolding on his train. Then, hearing the screams of passengers shouting "help us, help", he evacuated passengers from the front of the train before going to the rear to do the same.

Dr Gerardine Quaghebeur, a passenger on the Circle line train, began treating the wounded alongside her fellow traveller Stephen Desborough. Together they came across Lee Baisden, who had been killed instantly by the blast. Dr Quaghebeur also tended to Fiona Stevenson, a 29-year-old solicitor. The doctor felt a pulse and tended to Ms Stevenson for 20 minutes until a paramedic arrived. By that time she was dead.

Next, the doctor came across Carrie Taylor, a 24-year-old who worked for the Royal Society of Arts. Ms Taylor had been blown through the plastic screen in the carriage, incurring severe head injuries, and was screaming for help. Steven Jones, another passenger, laid her on the floor while Dr Quaghebeur shouted: "Get me a medic. This woman has only minutes to live if I do not get a medic." Ms Taylor died shortly afterwards.

In the same carriage, Elizabeth Kenworthy, an off-duty police officer, used her corduroy jacket to apply a tourniquet to the leg of Andrew Brown, before removing her belt to do the same to Martine Wright. She gave them water and held their hands until they were rescued. Both survived.

The stories of the first members of the emergency services to arrive at the scenes were also heard. After 15 minutes of searching for survivors and tending to the wounded, Craig Cassidy and his fellow paramedics and firefighters were instructed to evacuate the tunnel for fear that they might be killed by a second blast. Together, they ignored the warning and chose to stay.

At Edgware Road, passengers from a train travelling parallel to the one bombed by Mohammad Sidique Khan smashed the windows of their own carriage and clambered across the tracks to hurry to the aid of the wounded "without regard for their personal safety", said Mr Keith. Two of them, Anthony Pantling and Sandip Meisuria, tended to Michael Brewster, a council worker who had travelled from Derby to attend a meeting. The men gave him water and compressed his chest, before using a necktie to apply a tourniquet around his leg. Despite their efforts Mr Brewster, 52, died.

Another passenger, Steve Hucklesby, used the train's handrails to swing across the debris-strewn carriage after hearing shouts for someone to administer first aid. He came across Laura Webb, a 29-year-old accounts manager, and attempted to resuscitate her. She too did not survive.

Dr Elizabeth Wynne-Evans had arrived at Edgware Road on her to work as a pathologist at the Royal London Hospital. Upon being told the station was closed, she stayed to treat the escaping injured before going underground to try the same in the carriages.

Among the tales of heroism were the dreadfully sad stories of the deceased. Many had altered their plans that day only to find themselves on the same train or bus as one of the bombers. Jennifer Nicholson, a 24-year-old publisher who usually used the Bakerloo line but had changed to the Circle line because of delays, died in the Edgware Road bomb. Christian Small, 28, gave up his place on an earlier Piccadilly line train to a woman only to die after boarding the next one. Some, like Maria Hartley, had only been visiting the capital when they were killed. The 34-year-old had come from Lancashire to attend a concert. James Mayes, a 28-year-old from Islington had only returned from a holiday in Prague the previous day when he died.

About 15 others survived the initial blast, only to die from their injuries later. Sam Lee, an 28-year-old Australian, was injured in the bus blast at Tavistock Square, survived in hospital for a week but died on 14 April. His father had flown to Britain from London and spent four days by his son's bedside before he passed away. The bus blast, which happened at 9.47am, nearly an hour after the Tube bombings, was so loud that the paramedics working on the train at King's Cross thought it was a secondary explosion on the train.

Samantha Badham and Lee Harris grew up together in Hereford before moving to Tottenham, and planned to marry. They were thrown from the Piccadilly line train but survived and managed to shout for help. Ms Badham, 35, died as she was stretchered up the final flight of stairs on her way to an ambulance. Mr Harris, 30, survived for more than a week before dying in hospital on 15 July.

Those on the bus, it was explained, were already becoming aware of the attacks underground. Some of them had fled the affected Tube stations, but almost all of the bus victims were only there because the Tube network had been closed down.

Some, like Anat Rosenberg, a 39-year-old charity worker, and Miriam Hyman, 32-year-old publisher, had spoken to their relatives to assure them they were fine, unaware that Hasib Hussain was about to detonate his bomb beside them.

The inquest, which is expected to last five months, continues.

Comments