19th Oct, 2017

Coventry couple injured in Tunisia terror recount horror ordeal

Coventry Editorial 30th Jun, 2015 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

A YOUNG Coventry couple injured by bullets and grenades in the Tunisian terrorist attack have recounted their horrific ordeal.

Ross Thompson and Rebecca Smith were trapped in a corridor in the Imperial Marhaba Hotel hotel with other tourists as they all came under fire, not knowing if they would emerge dead or alive.

Ross, 21, was shot in the foot and 22-year-old Rebecca was wounded in the face and body by shrapnel and blasted into staff toilets – and agonisingly separated from Ross who was surrounded by dead and injured bodies and screaming families.

The Wyken couple were only hours into their holiday when a gunman with a rifle disguised in an umbrella went on a murderous rampage on the beach in the resort of Sousse, killing 30 Britons and injuring many other tourists.

Ross said: “We’d been outside for 20 minutes or half an hour after having our welcome meeting from the rep.

“I didn’t see the gunman himself.. obviously I saw people getting hit by bullets, including myself.

“We basically just ran for our lives and tried to hide.”

Rebecca said: “I was in the restaurant making the reservation for dinner and Ross was outside.

“..I walked out and everybody was running into the hotel.

“He (Ross) said there was gunshots, people being shot. I was like.. ‘No’.. but then I heard it myself and just panicked.

“My heart sank and just tried to get to where I was safe but you didn’t know what was and what wasn’t.”

Ross, a fire safety officer who went to Caludon Castle School, added: “We all thought it was fireworks at first and then you started hearing the bullets go past your head and hitting things… Everybody started shouting ‘gun’ and ‘run’ and, ‘There’s a man with a gun, just run.’

“Where we were hiding, he came onto the same landing that we were on in the corridor.

“There was that many of us in the corridor and that many people in front of us that we never saw him.

“We just got the aftermath of the bullets and the grenades that got thrown down the corridor.

“There were two grenades in the corridor that we were in.”

Rebecca, a former Bishop Ullathorne School pupil, added: “Ross got shot in the foot and I got blasted with a grenade. Luckily the force of the grenade threw me into a door. It was the staff toilets.

“Me and a woman and her son were hoping for the best in the toilets. You can lock a door but bullets are going to come through a wall.

“I didn’t know if Ross was dead or alive. People were shouting, ‘Help I’m dying’ and ‘Help he’s been shot’ and ‘Help she’s bleeding’. It was just absolute chaos.

“Just as we took our chances and opened the toilet door into the corridor I spotted him from down the end of the corridor and screamed for him.

“Everyone was just covered in their own blood or other people’s blood, or crying because their loved ones had died in front of them. It was just an horrendous, unreal scene.”

Ross added: “There were three dead people in the corridor. I had no shoes on.. we were walking over glass and other people’s blood. Stepping over dead people to get out.

“Watching it on the news and you think, ‘It must be horrible out there for them’ and then you see ourselves pop up on the TV and then you remember you were only there 24 hours ago,” Ross told BBC Coventry and Warwickshire.

Rebecca added: “I feel numb… It hasn’t hit me yet.”

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