The schoolboy trampled in the stampede after the Parsons Green terror attack last night spoke of his terrifying ordeal.
Alex Ojeda-Sierra, 13, stumbled and fell, disappearing beneath a tide of commuters who were twice his size.
In the first account of his ordeal, Alex told how he felt passengers tread all over his head, chest and stomach as he lay trapped on a stairway.
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Brave: Alex Ojeda-Sierra, 13, can be seen being carried out by emergency service crew after he stumbled and fell in the melee during the Parson’s Green bombing
His mother, Maria, spoke of the dread-inducing moment she heard Alex was caught up in the outrage – but was unable to reach him – and of the nightmares he has had since the attack
Alex said: ‘One man fell on me and my legs bent backwards and my right ankle got twisted. I started screaming that I had no air.’
Only a minute earlier – 8.20am on Friday – he had been on his way to school, discussing the day ahead with his friends as their train pulled into Parsons Green station, one stop from their destination of Fulham Broadway.
At that moment, a bomb next to one of the doors failed to fully detonate but created a giant fireball, causing pandemonium.
‘I dropped my bag and we started running,’ said Alex, who was later treated at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital and is now recovering at home in Morden, South-West London.
Alex Ojeda-Sierra was carried out of the Parsons Green Tube Station after the explosion
After several minutes, he was ‘dug out from so many bodies’ and was later pictured being carried to safety by two firefighters in one of the attack’s defining images.
When commuters eventually came to his aid, Alex’s first thought was for his elder brother, Robert, 15, with whom he had boarded the train at Wimbledon that morning.
He was unaware that Robert had earlier got off the train at East Putney station to use the lavatory.
Michael Perry, 29, a medical student who was at Parsons Green, said: ‘Alex had a massive scrape and bleeding and a contusion on his forehead where he had been knocked forward, as well as gashes on his tummy and side where he had been stepped on.
‘He had lost his brother, Robert, and he was absolutely terrified and worried about him.’
Maria said yesterday: ‘I stayed up with Alex until 5am this morning because he had nightmares. His injuries will heal but it will take longer for him to recover mentally.’
The 13-year-old was on his way to school when the bomb exploded one stop away from his destination
She had dropped her sons at Wimbledon station at 8am, as she does every weekday morning.
‘Around 20 minutes later I got a call from Robert,’ she said.
‘He had got off the train at East Putney to use the toilet and had borrowed someone’s phone to ask me why the next train was being held at the station.
‘I put the news on and saw there had been an incident but at first they said in Hyde Park. But then they confirmed it was Parsons Green and immediately I started panicking. I thought, “That is too close – this could be awful”.
‘I phoned Robert back and told him to get to school on the overground line because I thought he would be safe there – I didn’t want him on the Tube.
Alex’s brother Robert in action on the rugby field while at school
‘I was terrified because the school doesn’t allow phones and so I couldn’t get hold of Alex – I instinctively knew something was wrong and my panic was now in overdrive.
‘Then I received a call from an unknown number and it was a woman saying she was with my son. She put him on the line and he was very frightened.
‘He was scared because he didn’t know where his brother was – that was his main concern. I reassured him that we had spoken and Robert was okay. Alex hadn’t been at the front of the train where the bomb was but it was still very scary.’
Maria added: ‘He said everyone started running so he did, too.
‘He said his friend managed to get away but he has a weak ankle from an old injury and had tripped on the stairs.
Bomb-making videos still found on Google
Manuals for making a bomb like the one left at Parsons Green can still be found freely online.
A quick Google search yesterday brought up guides from terror groups such as Al Qaeda, including images such as the one, right. Last night critics said web giants must do more to crack down on terrorist material.
Yvette Cooper, who chairs the Home Affairs Select Committee, said: ‘The internet giants have made it much harder for people to find child abuse images online. It’s time they showed the same commitment to tackling terrorism.’
In May, Zahid Hussain, a nightclub bouncer from Birmingham, was jailed for making a bomb using a pressure cooker and fairy lights from an internet guide.
A Google spokesman said: ‘We remove links to illegal content from our search results as soon as we’re notified of them.’
By Stephen Bevan
‘Someone fell on top of him, followed by another person. He couldn’t breathe and had cracked his head open on the stairs.
‘He said he had to be dug out from so many bodies and that it was mayhem. I was in tears – it was a very difficult conversation but I was so relieved that he was alive.
‘I was so grateful the woman was there helping him. She got in an ambulance with him to comfort him and I drove to Chelsea and Westminster Hospital.’
On the way she passed Parsons Green, where she saw paramedics, firefighters and police. ‘That made me more terrified because there were so many of them.’
She added: ‘When I got to the hospital I just hugged Alex and we were both crying. I just thought how lucky we had been and it could have so easily been worse. He had grazes and bruises all over him. People were just running – it was everyone for themselves.
‘I thanked the woman for helping him – we were so fortunate that her and another man helped him. Alex asked me to thank the man too but he wasn’t around. Alex made me download Twitter and I managed to get a message online thanking him. Even after all that, all Alex wanted to do was find his brother and thank those who had helped him.’
Twitter user Lord Gustavo Vieira tweeted a photo of Alex and wrote: ‘I hope this little buddy is now warm and back home with his brother. #parsonsgreen #sad #ParsonsGreen.’ Underneath, Maria, 49, replied: ‘Thank you for looking after my son during this terrifying time. You helped him enormously. Very grateful. xx.’
She told The Mail on Sunday: ‘Alex is a very brave and special boy. He was released after a quick check-up and had an emotional reunion with his brother. It’s horrible to think that Robert would’ve been caught up in it too if he hadn’t gone to the loo.
‘We are very fortunate and there are people with worse injuries who were not so lucky. We just want to take it one day at a time. Last night Alex had nightmares and the mental scars will take time to heal.
‘The emotions keep coming in waves with him and with me but we will be okay eventually.
There was a dash for the exit when the bomb exploded at 8.20am on the District line Tube
‘I’m not sure if he’ll be back at school on Monday but we want things to get back to normal as soon as possible.’
Her husband Robert, 48, an economist, said: ‘When Maria told me I rushed to the hospital in a panic. Thankfully, Alex was not at the end of the train where there was the explosion but he’s clearly extremely shaken up.
‘We haven’t pressed him on what happened, we’ve just been trying to have fun and he’s been telling us about it in drips and drabs. He is recovering – he was annoyed because the news reported he was ten, but he’s actually 13! He’s an extremely brave boy.’
Alex was one of many pupils on the train from The London Oratory School, where Tony Blair sent his children. As always at that time, there were boys and girls from other schools, too – a fact not lost on the terrorists.
The Oratory’s choir director Charles Cole said: ‘The trains which go through Parsons Green are packed with Oratory pupils at that time of day. One of our pupils was right opposite the bomb at the time. Had the terrorists been successful, it’s difficult to imagine that that pupil could possibly have survived.’
May hits back over Trump tweet
The diplomatic row between Britain and the US over the Parsons Green terror attack escalated last night after Theresa May chastised Donald Trump in a TV interview.
Appearing on ABC’s This Week programme, which is due to be screened today, Mrs May hit back at a tweet by the President after Friday’s incident which read: ‘Another attack in London by a loser terrorist. These are sick and demented people who were in the sights of Scotland Yard. Must be proactive!’
In the interview, a clearly irked Mrs May told host George Stephanopolos: ‘I don’t think it’s helpful for anyone to speculate on what is an ongoing investigation. The police and security services are doing the work necessary to discover the full circumstances of this cowardly attack… and to identify all who are responsible.’
She declined to discuss whether Trump had offered any kind of apology in a phone call he made on Friday after the tweet. But Mr Trump’s National Security Adviser H. R. McMaster has reportedly been tasked with cleaning up what officials are privately calling his ‘latest mess’.
Mrs May hit back at a tweet by the President after Friday’s incident which claimed Scotland Yard knew about the attacker
Late on Friday McMaster claimed the President was ‘speaking generally’ about Scotland Yard and not implying police had dropped the ball: ‘For years Scotland Yard has been a leader, as our FBI has been a leader, so… I think he didn’t mean anything beyond that.’
After the Manchester attack, UK intelligence, including the name of the attacker and pictures of the explosive device, were leaked to the US media by US government sources, causing Britain to temporarily cease intelligence-sharing.
Mrs May said she would make clear to Mr Trump that ‘intelligence that is shared between our law enforcement agencies must remain secure’.
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage yesterday defended Mr Trump’s actions. ‘My suspicion is that Trump will be proved to be right,’ the close ally of the President told Fox News.
Just minutes after the blast, Sam told me… I saw the burned flesh on their faces: The astonishing first-hand account by Mail On Sunday man on bucket bomb train
By Ben Felsenburg for the Mail On Sunday
Have you ever run for your life? I have. I didn’t know what or who I was running from on Friday morning, but one glance at the wide-eyed horror on the faces of the well-heeled City workers fleeing the train at Parsons Green was enough to send me racing out the doors.
They were running for their lives and for that reason alone so was I. There was no adrenaline, just the sickening possibility that this might be it, the moment it all ends on an ordinary day out of the blue. This was terror, of some unknown event in the end carriage.
An entire packed commuter train had been suddenly transformed into a stampeding mini-tsunami of humanity surging along the platform.
There was no adrenaline, just the sickening possibility that this might be it, the moment it all ends on an ordinary day out of the blu
Hardly anyone was screaming or shouting, but for one terrible moment it was each man for himself, and something awful and primal had kicked in that made me push forward mindlessly in the rush for the stairs that had become impassably crowded in seconds.
I didn’t have a clue what had happened, but just 15 minutes after I had counted myself lucky to get on the train just before the doors had closed a few stops up the line, I was bracing myself for a marauding attacker armed with a knife or a gun, or a bomb blast.
My nostrils began to fill with an acrid, burning smell. Then one man had the presence of mind to cry out ‘Calm down’ to all of us crammed on to a short, narrow platform leading to steps that were suddenly woefully inadequate as an escape exit.
I snapped out of my panic, collected myself and echoed his call in the hope of stopping the pushing and shoving down the steps that were so crammed it was all too easy to imagine people could soon be crushed to death. Around me terror had given way to shock.
One young woman was in tears, shaking. Another woman repeatedly insisted ‘I’m fine, I’m all right’, and laughed over how she had lost her shoes in the rush.
By now the melee had calmed down into a very British well-behaved queue waiting to file down the steps and out of the station, and amid the chatter of the crowd, a few facts began to emerge.
There had been a bang – somehow not loud enough for me to hear halfway down the train – and there was talk of a flash of flames that had filled a section of the train.
Was it a terror attack or some kind of unlikely freak accident? Whatever we suspected it was impossible to know, but regardless of what had happened I began to wonder how bad the damage was for those left in the train.
I made my way down with everyone else to the ticket gates, where a young Eastern European mother with a toddler in a pushchair stood shaking with horror over the thought of what could so easily have happened to her child, mercifully unharmed.
Another woman – a smartly dressed office worker – stood alongside her, holding her arm in comfort.
There had been a bang – somehow not loud enough for me to hear halfway down the train – and there was talk of a flash of flames that had filled a section of the train
I was, to be honest, in a bit of a state. I wasn’t alone. I got talking to a young man, Sam Faley, who was teary and shaky but bright and remarkably cogent.
His story came out: he’d been right there, at the ground zero end of the train, and simultaneously heard the blast and saw the fire erupt from what he described as a ‘bag for life’. He felt the heat on his face from the flames that seemed to be everywhere.
He said: ‘There was a kind of thudding noise and the lid of the bucket popped off. The next thing I knew a blinding ball of fire just filled the whole carriage.
‘The heat and light were so intense. There was some kind of thick yellow gel that filled the carriage and had squirted out of the bucket. Luckily I was sitting down and surrounded by people.
‘I turned my head away from the heat and only singed the back of my hair. But there were others whose faces were really badly burned and just looked dazed. People suddenly started screaming and trying to bundle out the train.
Some had been knocked to the floor by the force of the blast. One woman was just rocking back and forth, frozen to the spot, and had to be carried out.
I was, to be honest, in a bit of a state. I wasn’t alone. I got talking to a young man, Sam Faley, who was teary and shaky but bright and remarkably cogent
‘Another collapsed on the platform stairs and was getting trampled underfoot. So many people were crying. I take that train every morning and always see the same people, so in a way you sort of get to know each other.’
Sam went on: ‘Everyone was fighting to get out the station but it was completely jammed. There was just panic and fear in the air. I saw around 50 police officers at the station who arrived within minutes, around half of them armed, and they really took control very quickly.
‘I’d been involved in a terror response training day just the day before and had been in Barcelona not long before the attack there last month. I’ve always wondered how I would respond to this kind of attack but you can never truly be prepared.’
At 21, Sam is part of a generation for whom the constant possibility of a terrorist attack has been an ordinary fact of everyday life since as far back as he could remember.
Now on this fine late-summer morning in London, something had kicked in that enabled him to know just what to do in the seconds after the blast, to find the calm to get up and walk towards safety until he hit the crowd.
With the police cordoning off the danger area around the station and ushering the public away to safety, I wandered up with Sam, past the tidy patch of green that is Parsons Green and up towards the elegant little boutiques and chi-chi eateries on New Kings Road.
Seemingly oblivious to the mayhem of just a few hundred yards away, the yummy mummy brigade were congregating after the school drop-off in an inviting cafe, and leaving Sam there I went off to find out what I could about the blast.
A little media village thick with microphones and cameras had popped up almost instantly by the green, but no one there seemed to know anything much for sure.
Was there a second device? An armed man on the loose?
Someone stuck a mobile phone under my nose and showed me a photo of what was left of the device on the carriage that had caused the blast – little more than a white bucket in a plastic bag.
Inside the bomb blast tube… in Sam’s own words
Media analyst Sam Faley, 21, left, was on the Tube on his way to his office in Hammersmith when there was a blast and flames erupted from a bucket in a bag, right, a few feet away from him.
Sam was sitting down, above, in the packed train when a ‘blinding ball of light filled the whole carriage’.
He says the fire ‘only singed the back of my hair’, but he saw some whose faces were badly burned and people who were ‘knocked to the floor by the force of the blast’.
My first reaction was to think how laughably pitiful it looked, but look at the results: for almost no cost and with little technical skill, an unknown bomber had injured dozens – thankfully none critically – and left many, many more badly rattled and traumatised.
I was shaken most of all by the memory of that panicked stampede on the platform: that was the moment of greatest danger, when the instinct to survive made us follow the terrorists’ bidding, until civilisation was restored after a few seconds.
It began to dawn on me that I had joined the ranks of all those people caught up in the kind of attacks that The Mail on Sunday and other newspapers have had to report on all too often these past few years.
This is what terror means: to be terrorised, to be reduced to sheer panic in an instant – one of hundreds of commuters who had nothing more to worry about than the business of the coming working day one moment, and the next were sick with fear for their very survival.
I’d been down at the scene long enough to know it was doubtful I’d find out much more there and started to walk to my office, but I was troubled, wondering how Sam was doing, and stopped at the cafe where I’d left him.
I shouldn’t have worried. I had misjudged the yummy mummies of Parsons Green: they had rallied round and taken this stranger to their hearts. Lindsay, a lovely mother of three, was insistent: Sam had to come back to her family’s house nearby, have something proper to eat and stay as long as he liked until he felt OK.
As a bonus, if he wanted he was welcome to cuddle her children’s dog. Her invitation to Sam was a small but sweet setback for the bucket bomber’s hopes of undoing our way of life.