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Manchester Arena survivor collapses as he remembers ‘making peace’ with death

A survivor of the Manchester Arena terror attack has said he ‘made peace’ with dying lying on the floor next to his teenage daughter after being hit by shrapnel from the suicide bomb.

Martin Hibbert, from Lancashire, suffered 22 wounds, including one that struck the center of his back and completely severed his spinal cord, paralyzing him from the waist down.

His daughter Eve, then 14, suffered severe shrapnel to the head, requiring lifelong care.

The father and daughter were about 6 meters away from Salman Abedi when he detonated his suicide bomb in the foyer of the City Room at the end of an Ariana Grande concert on May 22, 2017. The attack claimed the lives of 22 people.

Speak with LADBibleHibbert, who now uses a wheelchair, fought back tears as he recalled spending an hour in the aftermath of the attack thinking he would die.

Hours before the disaster: Manchester Arena survivor Martin Hibbert had bought VIP tickets to see American pop star Ariana Grande as a surprise Christmas present for his teenage daughter Eve.  The couple, pictured at dinner before the concert, suffered life-changing injuries during the attack

Hours before the disaster: Manchester Arena survivor Martin Hibbert had bought VIP tickets to see American pop star Ariana Grande as a surprise Christmas present for his teenage daughter Eve. The couple, pictured at dinner before the concert, suffered life-changing injuries during the attack

On the brink of death: Speaking to LADBible, Mr Hibbert fought back tears as he recalled spending an hour in the aftermath of the attack thinking he would die from shrapnel

On the brink of death: Speaking to LADBible, Mr Hibbert fought back tears as he recalled spending an hour in the aftermath of the attack thinking he would die from shrapnel

On the brink of death: Speaking to LADBible, Mr Hibbert fought back tears as he recalled spending an hour in the aftermath of the attack thinking he would die from shrapnel

“A lot of people worried about me because they thought I was in a lot of pain and scared, but I wasn’t. I was very calm and I had no pain,” he said.

“I literally focused on Eva and my breathing. I knew that if I panicked, I would probably lose more blood. Just thinking about those things when you die is crazy. There was an acceptance that I probably wouldn’t make it.

“I said to Chris, the security guard who was with me, ‘Tell my wife I love her.'”

He gathered and continued, “I don’t think people understand, that your mind goes through that and your body goes through that, to make peace with yourself, and almost like an acceptance of a situation.

And to have to say to people you don’t know ‘tell your wife you love her’. You think you won’t see anyone again.

“To accept that it’s hard to go on and that’s why I’m dead happy to be alive now. Having to endure and fight for an hour, and being alone and scared, it was terrible.”

Suicide bomber: The father and daughter stood about 5 meters away from Salman Abedi, pictured on the night of the attack, when he detonated his suicide bomb in the City Room foyer at the end of an Ariana Grande concert on May 22 .  2017, killing 22 people

Suicide bomber: The father and daughter stood about 5 meters away from Salman Abedi, pictured on the night of the attack, when he detonated his suicide bomb in the City Room foyer at the end of an Ariana Grande concert on May 22 .  2017, killing 22 people

Abedi on the night of the attack

Abedi on the night of the attack

Suicide bomber: The father and daughter stood about 5 meters away from Salman Abedi, pictured on the night of the attack, when he detonated his suicide bomb in the City Room foyer at the end of an Ariana Grande concert on May 22 . 2017, killing 22 people

Near miss: Many of the victims who died had their faces turned to Abedi, while Mr. Hibbert and Eve had their backs to him as they had passed him as they left the room

Near miss: Many of the victims who died had their faces turned to Abedi, while Mr. Hibbert and Eve had their backs to him as they had passed him as they left the room

Near miss: Many of the victims who died had their faces turned to Abedi, while Mr. Hibbert and Eve had their backs to him as they had passed him as they left the room

Preparing to Strike: CCTV image of Salman Abedi arriving at Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017, where he detonated his bomb.  Mr Hibbert says it's a 'miracle' that he and Eva survived

Preparing to Strike: CCTV image of Salman Abedi arriving at Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017, where he detonated his bomb.  Mr Hibbert says it's a 'miracle' that he and Eva survived

Preparing to Strike: CCTV image of Salman Abedi arriving at Manchester Arena on May 22, 2017, where he detonated his bomb. Mr Hibbert says it’s a ‘miracle’ that he and Eva survived

Hibbert had bought VIP tickets to see American pop star Ariana Grande as a surprise Christmas present for his teenage daughter.

They had left the hall during her encore to miss the bustle of the crowd and were crossing the foyer when Abedi detonated a homemade nail bomb.

“I just felt out of breath. I didn’t know it was a bomb. At first I thought I had been shot or stabbed and couldn’t breathe. I panicked, I thought, “s**t, what’s going on”. I couldn’t breathe.

‘I must have lost consciousness then, because before I know it I’m lying on the ground and gurgling with blood and I see I’m losing a lot of blood. I see that Eva is not well. Then I probably knew, just from what was going on in the room, that it was clearly a bomb.

“I recently saw footage of a second before detonation. It took me a while to get my head around it. To see that photo and then see that photo where basically everyone around us is dead and me and Eva survived. It’s a lot to keep your head up.”

Resolved: Mr Hibbert, pictured as evidence for the Manchester Arena inquiry, said the man he died that night at the Manchester Arena but he is lucky to be alive

Resolved: Mr Hibbert, pictured as evidence for the Manchester Arena inquiry, said the man he died that night at the Manchester Arena but he is lucky to be alive

Resolved: Mr Hibbert, pictured as evidence for the Manchester Arena inquiry, said the man he died that night at the Manchester Arena but he is lucky to be alive

Many of the dead had their faces turned to Abedi, while Mr. Hibbert and Eve had their backs to him as they walked out on his way out.

“We stood with our backs to each other and luckily I was standing in front of Eve,” he continued. “I covered Eve so happily that I shielded Eve from the blast. I knew I was not well, I knew I was dying, I knew I was losing a lot of blood.

“I remember saying to myself, ‘You’re not going to make it. You’ve got one job to do now and that’s make sure Eve gets out.’ I knew if I closed my eyes I’d be dead just from the amount of blood I lost.”

He would later discover that he had been hit 22 times by bolts ricocheting from the homemade device, including one that went through the right side of his neck, severing arteries and another that tore through his spinal cord.

‘They said it’s a miracle’ [that we survived] considering how close we were,” said Mr. Hibbert. ‘People died. Everyone around us died almost instantly. No one can explain it.’

The father and daughter were taken to hospital, where they spent five and ten months respectively.

‘They didn’t really tell me about Eve’ [at the beginning],’ he recalled.

“They kept saying she was alive because she was very, very busy for a long time, just because she had a very significant brain injury. A bolt went through and went through her head. They didn’t think she would make it.

“I can’t remember anything about it, but apparently I asked all the time and it was just, ‘yeah, she’s alive, but you just need to focus on yourself now’. You can’t really say that to a father, because that’s what you live for.’

Next adventure: The father of one is in training to climb Kilimanjaro to raise money for the Spinal Injuries Association.  Pictured, in the custom handbike he will use for the climb

Next adventure: The father of one is in training to climb Kilimanjaro to raise money for the Spinal Injuries Association.  Pictured, in the custom handbike he will use for the climb

Next adventure: The father of one is in training to climb Kilimanjaro to raise money for the Spinal Injuries Association. Pictured, in the custom handbike he will use for the climb

Hibbert, who is in training to climb Kilimanjaro to raise money for the Spinal Injuries Association, said the man he used died that night in the Manchester Arena.

“The life I knew and the life I ended that night,” he said. ‘It affects every way of life. I think people look at me and think “poor man, can’t walk”. But you actually find that out pretty quickly. It is everything else that remains hidden that you do not see. That’s the disturbing thing.’

Doctors initially feared Eve would remain in a “vegetative state” due to the brain injury, but she defied all odds and is now back in school full-time.

Mr Hibbert added: ‘I don’t think they had ever met a Hibbert before. We don’t like to be told what to do. She can see, she can hear, she speaks all the time, which is great.

“A few weeks ago I had a great video of her walking unaided. She’s back in school full-time, she’s going to another school. She’ll probably need care for the rest of her life, but you’re taking it because there are 22 families that would get it tomorrow.”

Click here to donate to Mr Hibbert’s fundraiser for Mount Kilimanjaro.

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