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Pals caught up in crash terror

Claire McKay, Sharon Gray and Zarna Choudhury were in Blackpool town centre when a car hit in injured three people, including Zarna
Claire McKay, Sharon Gray and Zarna Choudhury were in Blackpool town centre when a car hit in injured three people, including Zarna

A woman has told of the ‘chaos’ after a car hit her friend in Blackpool town centre and sparked fears of a terror attack.

Three women were injured by an estate car in Talbot Square on Saturday night.

One of them, Zarna Choudhury, was out with friends Claire McKay and Sharon Gray at the time of the incident at 11.50pm.

Claire, 34, said they were standing talking on The Strand between the Counting House and Home & HQ when ‘all of a sudden it was chaos’.

“Everything was calm and peaceful and at first we thought there was a fight,” she said.

“Everyone was running and shouting and, before you know it, the car was six feet in front of us.

“I grabbed hold of Zarna and tried to pull her out of the way but the car hit her.”

Zarna, in her 30s, fell to the ground with blood pouring from a cut to her face, Claire, from South Shore, said.

Two elderly women were also hurt outside the town hall, leaving frantic revellers dialling 999 to ask for help.

Pubs, clubs, and restaurants kept hundreds of punters indoors as emergency services taped off the scene.

But once more details emerged, police acted quickly to dispel talk of terrorism.

A 19-year-old man was later arrested and charged with a string of offences including drink driving and causing grievous bodily harm.

Claire said: “All everyone was saying was that it was a terrorist attack. I didn’t really think it was, but thinking about it, it could easily have been.

“One guy rang 999 saying it was a terrorist.

“All of a sudden there was just a flood of police and sirens. It was exactly as you would imagine. It was just so loud.”

The three friends, who had been to the Litten Tree pub in Queen Street before visiting Popworld in The Strand to celebrate Claire’s birthday, were left covered in blood from the deep gash on Zarna’s chin.

Police said she suffered a broken tooth, a swollen jaw, and bruising to her legs.

Zarna was taken to Blackpool Victoria Hospital alongside the other two women, believed to be tourists in their 70s and 80s staying at the nearby Ibis.

The woman in her 80s broke her collarbone, while the other had a sprained ankle and cuts and bruises to her leg. All have since been discharged.

Claire, who is a student nurse at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), said Zarna is today ‘battered and bruised’, though she said her injuries initially looked worse.

“We were all covered in blood,” she added.

“People were looking at me because I had blood down my arms from her chin.

“I’m very shaken. I have not really slept much.

“We left town in the ambulance and went straight up to hospital.

“It’s all a bit unbelievable really. All three of us are extremely lucky.”

Among the first on the scene were volunteers from Blackpool Street Angels, a group that works in the town centre on weekends to provide first aid, help, and advice.

Manager Paul Rawson said he and four others gave first aid to Zarna and the two pensioners before paramedics arrived.

He praised his fellow volunteers, who stayed calm as they treated the women, saying: “We were confident of what our capabilities were in terms of first aid and treatment, and that was priority.”

Claire added: “The Street Angels were fantastic.”

Officers carried out visits across the resort yesterday morning to reassure businesses and venues.

Det Supt Ian Whitehead, of Lancashire Police, had earlier said more people could have suffered minor injuries and appealed for them to come forward.

In a statement, he said: “We would also ask anyone who witnessed the incident, or captured any footage on their mobile phone or dashcam to get in touch, as we continue our investigation.

“This was a frightening incident at a time when Blackpool town centre was busy with people enjoying a night out.”

Call police on 101 with information.