Crime

Bermudians cheat death in terror attack

  • People flee the scene in Barcelona, Spain, after a white van jumped the sidewalk and crashed into a summer crowd of residents and tourists, killing at least 13 people and injuring many more (Photograph by Oriol Duran/AP)
  • Raven Pearman (File photograph by Akil Simmons)

Two Bermudian tourists yesterday cheated death in a terror attack in the Spanish city of Barcelona that claimed the lives of at least 13 people and injured 80 more, many of them seriously.

Juliet “Etta” Pearman and family member, Jean Joell, were waiting for the green light at a pedestrian crossing in the tourist hotspot of Las Ramblas when a white van mounted the opposite side of the road and mowed down pedestrians.

Shocked Ms Pearman — who was only 50 feet away from the carnage — said, if the crossing light had been green, the two would have walked into the “firing line” of the hired van, driven by an Islamic terrorist.

Ms Pearman, speaking just hours after the attack, said: “We were out and about on Las Ramblas and were standing at the cross walk. We had to wait for the light but had it been green we would have been in the firing line of the van.

“Just before we crossed the street, we heard a loud noise and screaming.

“I didn’t see it hit but I saw bodies lying on the ground.

“I was in shock, I thought it was an accident at first. I kept hearing these loud noises like gunshots or explosions and I just knew I needed to run in the opposite direction.

“As we were running I fell down, my glasses fell off ... it was terrible.”

Ms Pearman added: “We ran into a shopping complex, got inside and they closed the doors and pulled down the metal gates.

“We were in there for about an hour and we had to get out so we went to another hotel — we were running and running.

“I was so shaken up. We are still here now, we are hungry there is no food but we are afraid to go outside.”

Ms Pearman was celebrating her 50th birthday in the Spanish city with 15 other Bermudians when terrorists struck.

All 15 in her group are safe and unharmed.

The party included her niece Raven Pearman, Joanne Ballard and her husband Myron Ballard, Jean “Gaity” Joell and her husband Duke Joell, Bethea Pearman, and Juliet Pearman (senior).

They were staying in the Royal Ramblas hotel — about 200 yards from where the attack took place.

Ms Pearman’s niece Raven had remained at the Royal Ramblas with her 83-year-old grandmother Juliet Pearman (senior) when the attack occurred.

Raven said she burst into tears when she learnt her mother had escaped unscathed.

She added she had feared for the safety of her mother Bethea Pearman because she did not hear from her in the half-hour following the attack, although her aunts had contacted her to tell her they were unharmed.

She told The Royal Gazette: “I am in the lobby. I have seen police running down the street with guns looking for the guy who ran into people.

“The man got out of the van and ran so they are searching for him.

“Police are blocking off the area with police tape. People are inside the shops waiting it out. I am here with my elderly grandmother.”

She added: “My aunts saw it happen and had to run. My aunt saw people get hurt and they had to check into a hotel.

“For a long time, my mother was missing but she eventually contacted us.

“I broke down into tears. I was trying to keep it together for my grandmother, I didn’t want to let her know.

“My mother told me she is in a restaurant near to where they are holding hostages.”

Raven said she had got a call from her sister in Bermuda to ask what had happened and if the group was safe.

Ms Pearman’s family shot video footage of the chaos following the attack as they were being moved to a nearby hotel.

The family were in Barcelona for a few days’ shopping before joining a cruise ship.

Raven said she had no idea whether they would go ahead with the trip and added that family members in Bermuda had asked them to return home.

Juliet Pearman said that this was not the first time she had been close to a terrorist incident.

She was in a mall in London last summer when a suspicious package was found, which led to the evacuation of shoppers.

The Barcelona incident is the latest in a string of attacks across Europe using vans and cars.

London, Berlin and Nice have all been hit by terrorists who ran over pedestrians in busy city streets.

Islamic terror group Isis yesterday claimed responsibility for the attack.

Two men, a Spanish national from the North African enclave of Melilla and a Moroccan, have been arrested but police have said neither was the driver of the van, who is reported to have fled the scene.