In the panic of the Barcelona terror attack on Aug. 17 Australian Susan McLean sought refuge in the closest shop—and lost her husband in the chaos.
McLean, a cyber-security expert who was in the middle of a six-week jaunt across Europe with her husband, had been popping in and out of shops in the Spanish city’s most famous district, Las Ramblas, on Aug. 17 when she looked up to see a wave of people surging towards her.
They were fleeing a van that was ploughing into pedestrians on the La Rambla boulevard.
“There were hundreds and hundreds,” the 51 year old tells WHO. “I could see the fear and panic on their faces. They were indicating to us to get into the shops.”
Dashing into a shop she had just left, McLean became separated from her husband.
“It was awful not knowing,” says McLean. “The shopkeepers were great. They pulled everyone inside and put the shutters down.”
McLean was later reunited with her loved one, but others weren’t so lucky.
In scenes that have become appallingly familiar across Europe, a speeding vehicle ploughed into a crowd of people on Barcelona’s La Rambla shopping and cafe strip on that late Thursday afternoon, leaving in its wake a devastating scene of human tragedy.
At least 13 were killed, including 7-year-old Australian boy Julian Cadman, and more than 100 injured in the nation’s deadliest terror attack since the 2004 Madrid train bombings. Julian’s mother, Jumarie, was one of four Australians injured.
After the rampage, Australian holiday maker Gil van der Venne, 62, who moments before had just left the strip with his wife, saw the carnage from his hotel’s rooftop terrace.
“I counted five bodies on the footpath,” van der Venne, an insurance broker, tells WHO. “That’s a scene I’ll never forget. There was an elderly couple on the right. The husband had passed and the wife was being treated by paramedics. Elderly tourists who were probably going out, enjoying their time.”
Among the victims was American Jared Tucker, 42, who was on holiday with his wife, Heidi Nunes-Tucker, 40.
The couple had stopped for sangria at a cafe and became separated when Tucker went to find a bathroom. “No more than 30 seconds to a minute after he left, all mayhem broke out and people were screaming and crying and running,” Nunes-Tucker told NBC.
Friend Bill Claraty tells WHO Tucker had always been a happy person. “He was so really excited he finally got to go to Europe,” he says. “It was his first time.”
Said Nunes-Tucker: “I’d found my person: truly the love of my life. I don’t want to wake up without him next to me.”
On Aug. 21, the alleged driver of the van, Moroccan-born Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, was killed in a shoot-out with police in a rural area near Barcelona.
And nine hours after the La Rambla attack, police shot and killed five men in Cambrils, nearly 100km south of Barcelona, after they drove an Audi car into pedestrians, killing a woman.
Four other suspects are in custody and were questioned in a Barcelona court overnight. Two of the men have been charged with crimes including murder.
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