Local News

Hero explains why he ignored police yelling at him to flee to safety in Las Ramblas

“I wasn’t going to leave [the child] for anybody.”

By Kate Wagner
A man who was photographed holding a young boy injured in Las Ramblas has spoken out about why he ignored police officers yelling at him to run.
Birmingham tourist Harry Athwal explained to Good Morning Britain that his “parental instinct” kicked in and there was no way he was going to run to safety and leave the young child alone.
“As soon as I saw that child I knew what I had to do, I had to go to that child,” he said. “I was not going to leave that child.”
Australian/ British boy Julian Cadman, 7, was confirmed to have died in the Barcelona terror attacks, but authorities are unsure if that’s the child Harry was sitting with on the Spanish streets.
Harry explained he ran out of a restaurant to help after seeing the speeding van send pedestrians “flying into the air” from the first floor balcony.
“I was so focused on [the child] and I just sat with him and the first policeman got to me, he shouted to me in Spanish, I shouted back ‘I need an ambulance, I need an ambulance’,” he continued.
“He was shouting at me to get up and move is what he is saying. I said ‘no, I’m not moving I’m not leaving this child’ and I wasn’t going to leave him for anybody. I just sat there stroking his hair. I was crying, I was in tears, I was scared.”
Although the child didn’t have a pulse and wasn’t breathing, Harry said he was determined to stop him from coming into any further harm.
“You know nobody is going to come back, these cowards will not come back and run over him,” he said.
“Whether he’s dead or alive, it’s not going to happen. If I have to pick him up, I’ll pick him up.
“I didn’t want to move him, I wanted to comfort him, but if something were to happen I would have picked him up and I was going to get him out the way because I’d be damned if someone was going to hurt him.”
Co-host of the morning program Kate Garraway was left close to tears as Harry’s horrific tale hit a little too close to home with her own eight-year-old son.
“I can’t speak for the parents of that little boy but if it was my little boy, I would have loved someone to be there in that situation,” she said as she choked up.
Younes Abouyaaqoub, 22, plowed a van into a crowd at a popular tourist destination in Barcelona and killed up to 13 people.
Police launched a Europe-wide search for the assailant and he was shot and killed on Monday after four days on the run.