Elliot Smorger, a 15-year-old from Salford, England, was watching Ariana Grande’s Manchester Arena concert last night from a seat toward the back of the arena, behind the point where a detonation killed 22 fans and injured 59 others. “It was so strong it blew people backwards,” he tells Rolling Stone. “I had no idea what was going on and just covered my head. It was so scary. I just looked to see if my friends were OK.”
Then he realized he was among those who were injured. “I noticed I was bleeding, but it was weird because it didn’t even hurt,” he says. “I could just hear the horrible screams and I knew something bad had happened.”
By his estimation, metal shrapnel had scratched the side of his head. “I know now how lucky we were,” he says. “If we were just seconds ahead of where we were, we could have been killed.”
The period after the blast is “a bit of a blur” for Smorger. “Security came over and someone walked me out and he was amazing,” he says. “I didn’t even get his name but he didn’t run away from it, he ran into it to help us. It is just his job but he risked his life to run towards the blast.
“He helped me then ran back in to get others,” he continues. “I was treated for a shrapnel wound in the end when I was checked over a short while after but I knew I was being picked up and I didn’t want my mum going near it so I just wanted to get to her.”
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When he finally connected with his mother, she was sobbing. “I couldn’t calm her down,” he says. “She was waiting in the [parking lot] for me and my friends and she was just in bits when she found me. … We were the lucky ones.”
The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the terror attack, which The New York Times says is the deadliest on British soil since 2005. The assailant died in the blast.