'Stopping for sushi may have saved our lives', says Irish dad
An Irish man has described how people rushed to help the injured while others sat in shock after a car ploughed into a crowd in Melbourne's city centre.
Nineteen people were injured, including a young child who suffered head injuries, after the car hit pedestrians outside Flinders Street train station during rush hour yesterday.
It has also emerged that an Irish citizen was among the casualties. The Department of Foreign Affairs said it was providing consular assistance.
Police said they were treating the incident as a "deliberate act" and had arrested two men.
Gareth Flynn, originally from Trim, Co Meath, was in the area with his partner Jade, their baby daughter Freddy and his mother-in-law, who was visiting from Ireland. He said they missed the incident by mere metres.
"We were walking down towards the junction where the incident happened," Gareth said.
"We were about 20 metres away from the area when we stopped to get sushi rolls - only for that we would have been right in the middle of it.
"We heard a massive bang, like an explosion, and then people began running towards us.
"I grabbed the baby, our nine-month-old, and my partner and her mum and threw them in behind the counter.
"People were just running and screaming.
"I ran towards the scene and people were just trying to help those lying on the road - just normal civilians trying to aid the people who had been hit.
"More people were running towards the four-wheel-drive vehicle to get the driver.
"Within a minute, the state police were running on foot towards the injured.
"And then the armed police were coming down towards us in cars.
"The fire brigade, ambulance, police were all there trying to help."
Electrician Gareth, who has lived in Australia for six years, described the emergency response as "pretty quick".
"People are on top of it this time. Emergency services started treating people," he said.
"There were a lot of people just in shock lying on the street. They had just witnessed people flying up in the air.
"He just ploughed through them - people said they thought he was going about 100kph.
"People are on high alert now since the last time. The police handled it very well. They let civilians comfort and help the injured until the paramedics came."
Gareth said he and his family had decided to avoid the city centre for now.
"It's not what you want coming up to Christmas," he said.
"We won't be going down to the city, you just can't.
"It's the second time my partner was close to it. She was very close to the incident last January.
"We won't go into the city now with a young baby. We'll stick to the suburbs, it's not worth taking the chance.
"We were literally 30 seconds away from being in the middle of it. It's just not worth it. We're a bit shook this evening."
In January, a car struck pedestrians in Melbourne's busiest shopping centre, killing six people.
The driver, whose case is still being heard in court, had allegedly been pursued by police on suspicion of stabbing his brother.
After the crash, officials installed concrete bollards around the city - including in Flinders Street - in an attempt to prevent similar incidents.