A Calder Valley couple on a birthday break were just 100 metres away from the terrorist attack on Barcelona’s Las Ramblas boulevard last Thursday.
Megan Kelly and Alex Bowes were beginning a weekend break in the Spanish city to celebrate Alex’s 30th birthday when the attack unfolded as they left their hotel just a few streets away from Las Ramblas, the first place they were visiting.
Back in Hebden Bridge, Megan’s mum Eileen Kelly was relieved to receive a phone call from her daughter letting her know they were safe. She is also thankful that because it was a special occasion the couple had booked into a five-star hotel in which they were then safely locked down while police hunted for the terrorists who had fled the scene.
Eileen said: “Their hotel was just a couple of streets away and they had got checked in and were heading for Las Ramblas, which was abolutely heaving with people. They just heard all of this kind of screaming and saw people running. They had no idea at that point what was going on.”
Megan, 26, and Alex acted on their instincts that something was seriously wrong, said Eileen. “They said ‘we’d better just run’ because they didn’t know what was happening. There were no gunshots or anything. They were about 100 metres away when the attack happened,” she said.
The couple managed to run up a side street and get back to their hotel where they saw on television news what was happening - that a van had been driven at speed down Las Ramblas, killing 13 people and injuring more than 100, it was later revealed. Eileen said: “I was out in Hebden Bridge with another daughter having a coffee. Megan thought she needed to ring me and we wondered why she was ringing us. She said not to worry, they were safe. The hotel were amazing, it was completely locked down, sealed and they were safe.”
Megan and Alex had friends staying in a nearby villa and they wondered if they should try to get there but Eileen told them things had been reported as happening elsewhere and they would probably be safer to stay put.
The couple were able to attend the memorial vigil held at Las Ramblas the next day, where flowers had been placed, and were glad they had the opportunity to pay their respects. They returned home to the Calder Valley early on Sunday morning. Eileen said Megan and Alex would like to return to support the city and its people in the future.