Father of Manchester Arena bombing youngest victim rejects apologies

Manchester Arena survivor says she 'wanted to shout' at the Police

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Andrew Roussos said he believed “100 per cent” his “fighter” daughter Saffie-Rose would have survived had it been better. Saffie was the youngest victim when Islamic State-inspired Salman Abedi, 22, killed 22 men, women and children when detonating a shrapnel-packed suicide bomb outside an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester in May 2017.

An inquiry examining the emergency response found “significant aspects…went wrong” and Saffie and another victim, care worker John Atkinson, could have survived had it not been for those “inadequacies”.

The second of three reports examining what happened on the night said there was a “remote possibility” the outcome for Saffie would have been positive with “different treatment”.

But Mr Roussos said: “We know Saffie – she would do everything she possibly could to stay alive. She was alive nearly an hour after detonation. She was talking, sipping water, she understood what was happening.

“Saffie did all she could but didn’t get that chance to survive. A human spirit goes a long way. And we believe 100 per cent if she got that chance, she would have survived.”

Asked if he accepted the apology of the emergency services, he replied: “No, I don’t. What I do expect is for them to be honest because without admitting to the failings, how can you change for the future?

“I’ve heard for the last two years excuse after excuse.”

Inquiry chairman Sir John Saunders said “significant aspects” of the response “went wrong” with “fatal consequences”.

The family of John, 28, said he died due to these “failings” and “should have survived”.

In his 874-page report, Sir John made 149 recommendations and listed a damning catalogue of blunders. He said police, fire and ambulances services failed to work together, that the police commander was overwhelmed and, crucially, not enough paramedics were sent to help the injured and dying.

A decision to locate fire teams three miles from the scene led to crews arriving more than two hours later. Sir John added: “Everyone involved no doubt thought they were doing their best.

In some cases their best was not good enough.

“In the case of John Atkinson, his injuries were survivable. It is likely inadequacies in the emergency response prevented his survival. In the case of Saffie-Rose, there was only a remote possibility with different treatment and care.”

John was six metres from the blast in the City Room foyer, suffering a critical leg wound.

Passerby Ron Blake used his wife’s belt as a tourniquet for up to 50 minutes. John told a police officer: “I’m gonna die.” He suffered a fatal cardiac arrest one hour and 16 minutes after the blast.

His loved ones said John’s death “should simply never have been allowed to happen”.

They added: “It is now clear John was totally failed at every stage. John must have known that he was dying and the pain that causes us is too great to put into words.”

Chief Constable Stephen Watson, of Greater Manchester Police, said he “fully accepts” the findings and admitted the coordination of the response was “inadequate”.

Daren Mochrie, chief executive of the North West Ambulance Service, said more responders should have been deployed. David Russel, chief fire officer at Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service, said the report made for “very difficult reading”.

Lucy D’Orsi, chief constable of British Transport Police, admitted significant errors were made.

Home Secretary Suella Braverman said: “It’s right that we reflect and work together to learn from this tragedy.”

‘I was watching her slip away and I couldn’t do anything

The youngest victim of the Arena terror attack – eight-year-old Saffie-Rose Roussos – could have possibly survived the blast had medics got to the scene quicker, the report reveals.

Saffie-Rose, of Leyland, Lancashire, was at the Ariana Grande concert with sister Ashlee Bromwich, now 31, and mum Lisa Roussos. Lisa, 52, was seriously injured in the attack, and later described her child as a “beautiful, sensitive soul”.

The inquiry heard NHS nurse Bethany Crook rushed to Saffie-Rose’s side seconds after the blast but said that, while waiting for an ambulance, “I knew I was losing her. I think she was fighting as hard as she could. I was watching her slip away and I couldn’t do anything.”

Before the inquiry, her parents believed Saffie-Rose died within seconds of the blast, and had not suffered – but they later learnt she fought to stay alive for an hour and died from blood loss from leg injuries.

Yesterday’s inquiry report said her survival was “highly unlikely” but “not an impossibility with the best treatment”.

Last night the family’s solicitor, Nicola Brook, said: “This damning report reveals what the families knew all along, that all the organisations meant to protect their loved ones failed on an enormous and unfathomable scale.”

‘Regrets of those in charge mean nothing’

A hero who fought in vain to save the life of a Manchester Arena terror attack victim said “big mistakes” were made on the night of the blast.

Ron Blake was injured himself but fought to try to save care worker John Atkinson, who had a critical leg injury and died from a cardiac arrest.

The inquiry concluded John could have survived if the emergency response had been better.

He was not seen by paramedics for nearly 50 minutes, a period of time Ron said “seemed to last forever”. He used his wife’s belt as a tourniquet to stem the bleeding, having only ever seen it on TV.

Ron said those in charge had “got it all wrong” and that the subsequent apologies from the police, ambulance and fire services meant nothing.

John was finally carried out of the Arena foyer to the casualty clearing area at next-door Manchester Victoria railway station. Ron said he left him with a paramedic and that he was “still talking”.

He was horrified to hear the next day, as he was being treated for his own injuries, John had died. Ron added: “It was on the news in the hospital waiting room. I went outside and broke down. I did what I could. I did what anybody would have done.”

12 mistakes in the emergency service reaction

Inquiry chairman Sir John Saunders highlighted 12 key failures of the emergency response to the terror attack. They were:

A lack of communication between emergency responders, both through the act of physically co-locating at a single multi-agency rendezvous point and via radio.

A failure to have available either a multi-agency control room talk group or to set one up on the night. This would have allowed control rooms to speak to each other directly.

Greater Manchester Police’s (GMP) force duty officer (FDO) Inspector Dale Sexton did not inform other emergency services of his declaration of Operation Plato, a pre-determined response to a marauding armed terrorist, or keep it under review.

The FDO and others in GMP failed to consider zoning the scene, following the declaration of Plato, in the early stages of the response.

No forward command post was set up for senior officers to liaise. It was found this was principally the responsibility of GMP.

Delays by North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) in getting ambulances and paramedics to the scene.

Failure to send members of NWAS’s specialist Hazardous Area Response Team into the foyer, the scene of the explosion, to assist with triage and life-saving intervention of casualties.

Failure to send non-specialist paramedics into foyer to assist triage.

A failure to get stretchers to foyer to help evacuate the injured.

Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) did not arrive on scene and make any contribution in removing the injured, which its officers could have done.

Staff at North West Fire Control did not pass on important information to officers in GMFRS.

No one senior at GMFRS took a grip of the situation during the critical period of the response.

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