Father and daughter ‘lucky to be alive’ after runaway van collision on George IV bridge

Aaron Oxley and daughter Annabelle. Picture: Ian Georgeson
Aaron Oxley and daughter Annabelle. Picture: Ian Georgeson
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A FATHER today told of the terrifying moment he and his three-year-old daughter were trapped after a runaway van ploughed through Festival crowds.

The pair were waiting to cross the road when it struck and dragged them underneath.

Ciaran Walsh was one of the bystanders who helped. Picture; Neil Hanna

Ciaran Walsh was one of the bystanders who helped. Picture; Neil Hanna

The unmanned four-tonne vehicle had rolled backwards down a packed George IV Bridge, knocking over Fringe-goers “like skittles”.

Aaron Oxley, 36, and three-year-old Annabelle were saved by quick-thinking pedestrians who leapt into the path of the Mercedes Sprinter before pushing it up the hill to free them.

The incident came a month after a truck was deliberately driven into crowds in Nice – and some people watching the horror unfold said they “froze” amid fears of an attack.

Miraculously, both suffered only minor scrapes and bruises – and Mr Oxley said they were “lucky to be alive”.

The financial analyst from East Calder had just finished watching a Fringe show with his daughter when they were caught up in the freak accident.

They were in a parking bay waiting for a break in the oncoming traffic when they were struck from the side.

“Suddenly I was on the ground under the van with my daughter,” he said. “I was shouting for somebody to help us, to get the van off.

“I was wedged against the back wheels. I was frightened we were going to be crushed to death.

“I remember thinking, ‘I hope the wheels don’t go over us’.

“My daughter was next to me under the van, doubled over with her chest up against her leg.

“It was very scary and I’m glad there were so many people around to stop the van rolling.”

The van had been parked outside Pizza Express close to the junction with Victoria Street before it started to roll.

The driver, who was not in the van at the time, rushed back to secure the vehicle after members of the public stopped it.

Bystanders said he was breathalysed at the scene, though police confirmed that no charges had been brought.

Brave Kieran Walsh, 39, was among those who risked their lives to stop the van when he saw it rolling back towards crowds.

He said: “There was a scream and I legged it across the road. There were several people behind the van. They fell like skittles.

“People were rushing out the way and I saw at least three or four fall to the ground.

“There was about three or four blokes, with me in the middle. We were all holding it back.

“I could see the man sticking out but it was only when we pushed the van back that I realised a little girl was underneath. She was screaming.”

He added: “All of the victims of this accident fortunately escaped with no more than cuts and bruises, including the young girl and her father.

“But with the recent happenings in France it was mentioned by a few witnesses that they froze out of panic for fear that the van was intentionally being driven into the crowd.”

Police confirmed that they were called out shortly after 1pm on Monday and that “inquiries were ongoing”.

A Scottish Ambulance Service spokesman added: “We received a 999 call to an incident on George IV Bridge at 1.05pm.

“One ambulance responded and no-one required transfer to hospital.”