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Frodsham taxi driver crossed police cordon after Manchester terror attack to get passengers home safely

Tommy McMahon undertook frantic search to find group of girls he was booked to collect

A Frodsham taxi firm cabbie risked his own safety to cross the police cordon set up in the aftermath of the Manchester terror attack so he could find four girls he was scheduled to collect to get them home safely.

Tommy McMahon, 47, from Runcorn, had been desperately trying to find a route to them by road but pulled up after hitting repeated road cordons.

But he left his car and got the go-ahead from a police officer to pass through and search for the girls on foot, the Liverpool Echo reports .

His colleagues back at the Frodsham & District Taxis office tracked him on GPS and advised the route as he looked for a snooker club where the girls, three of whom he had dropped off at the start of the evening, were waiting.

While others were streaming out and trying to leave, Tommy pressed on, even running some of the route, while taking calls from workmates and the group of passengers themselves, who sounded understandably ‘upset’.

He said his only thought was to find the girls, who were aged 16 to 18 years, and to ‘get them home safe’.

After searching for up to half an hour on foot, he spoke to a policeman on one of the waiting group’s phones and then eventually spotted one of them waving from across the road from the snooker club not far from the Manchester (‘MEN’) Arena as high alert gripped the area beneath the spectre of potential further blasts and violence.

Tommy, who was at the Hillsborough Stadium disaster as an 18-year-old fan, said he felt like it was ‘deja vu’, but he was able to tell the distraught girls ‘I know what you’re going through’.

He walked with them back to his cab and then tried to find a way back out of Manchester and drop his passengers back in Runcorn.

Tommy had set off from his girlfriend’s at 10.25pm, before the bomb exploded.

He said: “When I was on the ‘56 my girlfriend rang me and said ‘there’s been reports there’s been an explosion at the MEN.

“I thought ‘you’re joking’.

“She knew where I was going and said ‘be careful’.

“I got closer and rang the girl (who had booked the taxi), she was obviously very upset and they said they were by a snooker club by Cheetham Hill.

“I said ‘no worries, I’ll be there as soon as I can’ and then I’ve got a phone call off the operator and they gave me the postcode for where they’d be.

“As I gets to Deansgate, they’re closing off the local roads.”

After finding more dead ends, he set out on foot.

He said: “I went down to Rochdale Road where they had closed it off and asked if I could walk through because it was cordoned off and I had to pick up four girls and they said ‘by all means’.

“I was involved in Hillsborough when I was 18, it’s like deja vu, the panic, the pandemonium.”

He added: “When I got to the girls (they were) very upset, crying, just distraught.

“I was saying ‘I know what you’re going through’, I saw horrible scenes at Hillsborough round about their age – it takes it out of you.”

He managed to drop them off by 12.50pm without requesting or taking any payment, and was in bed by 2am for a 7am start to send his children to school.

Tommy said he had not thought once for his safety when crossing the cordon to find his passengers.

He said: “I’m thinking of the girls, there were on their phones.

“I had the radio on and they said they were unsure what the device was, whether it was terrorists.

(Image: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

“They weren’t 100% sure.

“They said there were 19 dead and 50 injured.

“It felt like ages before I could find them (the passengers), I was just thinking for the girls’ safety, I wasn’t bothered about me.

“I was on autopilot.”

Tommy was not the only Frodsham & District driver whose evening was affected by the explosion at the 21,000-seater Manchester arena, which had killed 22 victims as young as eight and wounded 59, who were there to watch an Ariana Grande concert .

Colleague Richie Green, 45, of Halton Brook, dropped off a Manchester Royal Infirmary CT scanning unit medic who was anticipating a scene akin to a ‘war zone’ as they received updates including that two casualties had just died, bringing the total at that time to 19 as the scale of the disaster began to unfold.

Their boss Gary Roberts’s wife and child had also been at the event but had made a swift exit at the end, before the explosion, because his daughter had not felt at ease and wanted to go home.

Their stories came to light after one of the girls’ mums praised them on social media.

Helen Harrison said: “Just have to say a huge thank you to District Taxi tonight.

“My daughter and friends were at the Ariana concert in Manchester and had booked a taxi there and back.

“After the incident at end of the concert the girls were in a right state as they didn’t know where to go.

“(They) were supposed to be meeting taxi at Picadilly at 11.10pm and couldn’t get there, and all their phones were running out.

“We have had great communication with someone at District all night and the taxi driver went above and beyond to leave his taxi and walk to find them.

“Thankfully girls are now home safe xx. Thank you so much.”

An official JustGiving page has also been set up to support the families of those killed and injured in the Manchester Arena attack.

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