Youngest Manchester Arena victim, 8, asked ‘am I going to die?’ after blast

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Andrew Roussos, whose eight-year-old daughter Saffie-Rose was killed in the atrocity, yesterday gave evidence at the inquiry into the 2017 Manchester Arena terror attack

Saffie Roussos was the youngest victim of the attack
Saffie Roussos was the youngest victim of the attack

The youngest victim of the Manchester Arena terror attack asked paramedics “am I going to die?” just minutes before her death, a public inquiry has heard.

Saffie-Rose Roussos, from Leyland in Lancashire, was just eight years old when she was killed in the May 2017 suicide bomb attack.

Her dad has told an inquiry the emergency response was “shameful” and the security services responsible for “one of the worst failings” in history.

Andrew Roussos gave evidence at the inquiry into the 2017 suicide bombing.

The dad asked to say a few words after hearing evidence about the medical help given to his daughter after the blast.

He said: “I have never heard so many excuses, so much justification that the response on the 22nd May was somewhat acceptable.

“As a human being and a father I cannot live with myself if I don’t voice this. The response on that night was shameful and inadequate.

Andrew Roussos told the inquiry into the blast he had never heard “so many excuses”
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“Everyone in that City Room was let down and the people that excuse it should feel shame.

“As we just heard, what Saffie went through I will never forgive. That poor little girl hung in there for someone to come and help her. What she received was a bloody advertising board and untrained people doing the best they could…”

“…What can we learn from this? My answer to that, Sir, is a disgrace to everyone involved and to this country. To the people helping and to the people dying…

“I apologise for speaking my mind or if I offend anybody but what I’m saying is not directed to any individual…

“The response of the security services on this atrocity should go down in history as one of the worst failures from start to finish and that’s what we should learn from this.”

Her mum, Lisa, also asked to address the hearing and said: “I want to thank those who tried to help Saffie that night and for being with her.

“I also want to say to the professionals like the emergency services and MI5 that this inquiry isn’t about protecting your job, your reputation or your uniform.

“We understand the sheer panic and fear you were faced with that night but until you admit the failings how can there be a positive change?”

Saffie-Rose Roussos was at the Ariana Grande concert with her mum Lisa Roussos, 50 and sister Ashelee Bromwich, 29, after she was given the tickets for Christmas leaving her “jumping for joy”.

Bomber Salman Abedi killed 22 people
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But after having the “night of her life” the youngster ended up five metres away from suicide bomber Salman Abedi when he detonated an improvised explosive device.

Sister Ashlee said in her statement how she was left in “shock” not knowing where her mum or sister were, so she crawled to the entrance:

She said: “I had just come around and instantly felt heat and thought there was a fire coming towards me. I could not walk and I knew I had to get away from where I was. I knew it was a bomb that had gone off.”

Her mum Lisa broke down in tears when she told the hearing how Saffie had been pulling her arm, excited to see her brother Xander who was waiting outside for them with her dad, when the bomb went off.

She said: “The next minute there was a big thud and I was lying on the floor on my right side. I remember the sound of white noise… I knew it was something serious. I seemed to think it was a bomb.

“I can remember just lying there and I tried to move and my body wouldn’t move…I can remember just thinking, just stay awake…help will come soon…it felt like hours before anybody approached me.

“I knew if I closed my eyes that was it….I wanted to keep my eyes open and stay alive just so I could make sure someone was taking care of Saffie but I was feeling so tired and just wanted to go to sleep.”

She was taken to hospital where she was placed into a medically induced coma and her husband told her chances of survival were “remote”.

Saffie-Rose had been lying on the ground next to her being helped by a passerby. She was eventually carried to an ambulance on a piece of advertising hoarding and asked medics: “Am I going to die?”

Saffie arrived at the hospital at 11.23pm, following a six minute and ten second journey there. She was the first casualty who arrived at Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital and Dr Oldbury recorded her time of death as 11.40pm.

She was the youngest of the 22 tragic victims. Her mum survived but needed a series of operations to walk again. Her sister Ashlee spent two weeks in hospital before being discharged.

The chairman, Sir John Saunders, told the family they had experienced an “unbelievable nightmare”.

Her father, Andrew, said it was one they had to live with and said. “It is a need and a responsibility to do my best …to make sure this does not happen to another family…”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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