Family praise ‘hero’ who tried to save Manchester Arena bombing victim

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The family of a care worker killed in the 2017 Manchester Arena bombing has heard in the bombing investigation praising the “heroic” efforts of a member of the public who tried to save her.

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John Atkinson, 28, of Bury, Greater Manchester, was just six meters from bomber Salman Abedi, having set off a bomb in the Manchester Arena’s City Room foyer at an Ariana Grande concert in 2017.

Mr Atkinson was a big fan of the singer and was watching the performance on 22 May 2017 with his friend Gemma O’Donnell, sister of his partner Michael.


During the public inquiry in Manchester, it was heard that the two were separated during the blast.

Meanwhile, former pizza shop owner Ronald Blake collapses to the ground with an explosion while waiting to pick up their daughter from a concert with his wife Leslie.

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When the smoke cleared and he got to his feet he saw a man – Mr Atkinson – lying on the floor covered in blood. Mr Atkinson was apparently conscious and talking after the explosion, although he had sustained injuries to his leg and abdomen.

Mr Blake called emergency services and reported that Mr Atkinson was “actually injured”, that blood was “pumping” from his leg, and that he thought 40 other people had been injured.

Mr Blake had no first aid training, but attempted to stop the flow of blood from Mr Atkinson’s leg using his wife Leslie’s belt.

This was after the 999 call holder asked Mr Atkinson to put a tourniquet on his leg and put pressure on him.

Mr Blake placed a tourniquet on Mr Atkinson’s leg for nearly an hour while the paramedic waited for the injured care worker.

Mr Blake told interrogation: “I’ve never had first aid training and my natural instinct in the Arena was to stop the blood and keep him alert. When I left him with the paramedics I thought he would survive. “

He further explained that Mr Atkinson was conscious and talking when they were together. He said he was “shocked” to learn the next day, while he was being treated in hospital for his own injuries, that Mr Atkinson had died.

John Cooper QC, representing Mr Atkinson’s family, told Mr Blake: “I thank you deeply on his behalf for the hard work, dedication and the heroism you put in trying to save John that night. Can’t think of a better word than this. Thank you very much for this.”

He asked Mr. Blake: “At the time you were working with John, it was obvious, wasn’t it, that he was very, very seriously injured?”

The witness replied: “Yes.”

Mr Cooper continued: “And you didn’t need a medical qualification to see, for example, did you clarify how much blood he was losing?”

Mr. Blake said: “Yes.”

The investigation has heard from experts that timely medical intervention could have made a difference to Mr. Atkinson’s survival or not. He also heard that the issue would be “carefully considered”.

Just three paramedics from the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) entered the city room on the night of the bombing, two of whom arrived just minutes before Mr Atkinson was evacuated.

Available footage showed Mr Atkinson was not triage, assessed or assisted by NWAS personnel for 47 minutes in the city room, heard at the interrogation.

PA. Additional reporting by


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