herald

Tuesday 25 July 2017

'My mum was watching over Kiara' - uncle of lucky teen

Kiara McKelvey (15) with mum Hilary and brother Zak
Kiara McKelvey (15) with mum Hilary and brother Zak

An Irish teenager who was caught up in the Manchester terror attack had to climb a fence in order to escape the chaos that ensued after a bomb was set off following a pop concert.

Kiara McKelvey (15) and a friend were enjoying US star Ariana Grande's concert at the Manchester Arena on Monday night, when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive, killing at least 22 people and injuring dozens of others.

Kiara was last night recovering from the horrifying ideal as her uncle told the Herald that the teen had "a guardian angel looking down on her" following her lucky escape.

Kiara, who moved from Togher in Cork to Manchester two years ago, managed to flee to safety, but her uncle Lloyd Creagh said that she is understandably shaken by what happened.

Stampede

"I was asleep when it happened but when I woke up I checked my phone and I saw the news," said Mr Creagh, who is from Harbour View Road in Cork.

"I knew Kiara had been at the concert so I straight away contacted my sister.

"She seemed to have been sitting on the other side of the stadium with her friend but there was a stampede their way. A fence was beside them so they hopped over it.

"Some of the doors were still locked because the concert was still on, but they did manage to get out eventually.

"Her friend's mother was waiting to collect them outside to bring them home."

While she was left shaken by the attack, Mr Creagh said Kiara managed to escape the area of the attack before the true scale of the horror unfolded.

"She got out pretty quickly compared to other people - she was gone before all the ambulances, fire brigades and police arrived," he said.

"It was a close call but she didn't witness too much, thankfully."

He also praised his niece for ensuring that her parents knew she was safe.

"Thank God she's clever enough that, as soon as she got out, she thought to call her mother. I believe the phone lines got blocked up a while later," he said.

"Her father's phone was hopping from his own sister calling. She'd heard what had happened and was in hysterics not knowing if Kiara was OK.

"My sister Hilary [Kiara's mother] is a bit upset and shook, they all are, it's so close to home."

Speaking on the Neil Prendeville Show on Cork's RedFM yesterday, he spoke candidly about how lucky Kiara is to have survived the incident.

"It's beyond belief that somebody could take a child's life," he said. "It's quite upsetting.

"My own mother only passed away a few years ago but I really believe she was Kiara's guardian angel and was looking down on her last night."

Mr Creagh said that his niece will need help and support to recover from her ordeal.

"I think they might need to point her in the direction of a counsellor," he said.

"I didn't speak to her because she couldn't sleep last night, so she only got to sleep in the early hours of this morning and I didn't want to disturb her, but her mother is worried about her."

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