Manchester Arena Inquiry hears from injured Wigan teens who were yards away from terrorist when he detonated bomb

A teenager and her best friend were injured in the Manchester Arena terror attack as they passed just yards from the suicide bomber as he detonated his device, a public inquiry heard.

Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 12:23 pm
Updated Tuesday, 13th April 2021, 5:08 pm

Amelia “Millie” Tomlinson was linking arms with Lucy Jarvis as the elated teenagers left the Ariana Grande concert attended by thousands of excited youngsters in May 2017.

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Just yards away was stood Salman Abedi, surrounded by parents, waiting for the crowds of youngsters to emerge into the City Room foyer of the venue.

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Ms Tomlinson giving evidence to the inquiry

Both teenagers, then aged 17, were injured as a smiling Abedi detonated his device, sending nuts and bolts shredding everything in their path and killing 22 bystanders in the terror attack.

Ms Jarvis, now 21, revealed she asked Millie “Am I going to die?” moments after the blast, having sustained multiple “life-changing shrapnel wounds” all over her body, damage to her organs and damage to her right leg that was so severe she nearly lost the limb.

Describing the moment the bomb went off, she told the public inquiry sitting in Manchester: “I don’t really fully remember it. I didn’t hear it, I just remember feeling really hot, all of a sudden.

“I felt loads of heat and just remember being on the floor.”

Ms Tomlinson in 2018

She added: “I remember hearing Millie shouting my name but it was very faint and quiet.”

Ms Jarvis managed to get to her feet, despite extensive injuries to her ankle and legs, and followed after her friend.

“I remember going back into where the seats were, and just before we got to the seats ... I remember sitting on the floor with Millie, being like ‘what has happened?’

“I was looking at my legs and could see holes in my jeans. I was touching them to see what had happened. At the time I had acrylic nails on, they were just covered in blood. I was saying to Millie ‘Am I going to die?’”

Lucy Jarvis in 2017

She went on: “The next thing I remember after that was being on the concourse floor, with these two men from the arena. I didn’t see Millie again after that,” she said.

Ms Jarvis was briefly treated at the scene before she was rushed to Salford Royal Hospital by ambulance.

She told the inquiry she had still not fully recovered from some of her injuries, almost four years on.

Ms Tomlinson, now aged 21, from Beech Hill, told the public inquiry sitting in Manchester: “As we came through the foyer I remember I had my phone because I was going to phone my mum.

“All of a sudden I felt like this warm gush of air hit me and I felt really warm, like when you jump in a pool.

“I felt my body getting thrown around. I remember going into a ball. I had my eyes closed.

“I opened my eyes, I could see loads of smoke.

“I could see loads of people on the ground, like the victims, on the ground.

“I could see Lucy and me had been blown apart.

“We both just looked at each other and knew something really bad had happened and we managed to get up and run back through the doors.

“I remember feeling like I could not run, but did not know why. A bolt had gone through my shoe and foot.

“I could tell Lucy was quite severely injured.

“At this point Lucy sat down on the steps and said she could not walk and was going to die, and I could tell she was losing lots of blood.”

Ms Tomlinson had also suffered injuries to her fingers and struggled to work a phone, but managed to call Ms Jarvis’s mother to say there had been a bombing.

She and Ms Jarvis had grown up watching Ariana Grande on TV children’s channel Nickelodeon and were excited to see her perform, listening to her albums as they spent hours choosing outfits and getting ready, she told the inquiry.

Ms Jarvis was taken from the Arena by emergency responders and Robert MacFarlane, a first aider working for the Arena, wrapped Ms Tomlinson’s injured fingers up and took her outside.

The street was in “chaos”, Ms Tomlinson said, but she managed to meet up with her mother and grandmother, who had driven them to the event, and Mr MacFarlane drove them all to Manchester Royal Infirmary so the injured teenager could be treated.

Ms Jarvis is due to give evidence via videolink later today.

The public inquiry is looking at the events around the bombing by Abedi, 22, on May 22 2017.

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