A father has told of the terrifying moment he and his three-year-old daughter were trapped after a runaway van knocked over a crowd of people “like skittles”.
Aaron Oxley and daughter Annabelle were waiting to cross the road when the vehicle struck and dragged them underneath.
The four-tonne van, which had no driver at the time, had rolled backwards down busy George IV Bridge in Edinburgh, ploughing through tourists attending the Fringe.
Thirty-six year old Aaron and his daughter were saved by quick-thinking pedestrians who jumped into the path of the Mercedes vehicle before pushing it up the hill to free them.
Some people who witnessed the horror admitted they “froze” after seeing possible parallels with the terror attack in Nice, France, last month, when a truck was deliberately driven into crowds.
Luckily, Aaron and Annabelle suffered only minor scrapes and bruises in the accident – and Aaron said they were “lucky to be alive”.
The financial analyst from East Calder, West Lothian, had just finished seeing a show with his daughter when they were caught up in the accident.
They were waiting to cross the street when they were struck from the side.
He said: “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 by the branch of Pizza Express close to Victoria Street when it started to roll.
The driver, who was not inside, ran back to secure the vehicle after it was stopped.
Bystanders claim he was breathalysed at the scene but police say no charges have 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.
“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.”