I have been contemplating whether or not to post this on our blog. It is something that is not as pleasant as traveling from place-to-place, but it is a reality. Before I begin, we would like our family and friends to know that we are okay. A bit dazed, but we’re alright.
Some of you may have heard that many people in Turin were affected by a stampede of people last night, Saturday, 3 June 2017. I would like to share the experience that we had in relation to this. For a more in-depth news article on what happened, here are two articles: ESPN FC or BBC . The ESPN one helps explains how everything got so out of hand.
Last night, Nick and I, with a couple of friends, decided to eat at a local restaurant and watch the Championship Soccer Game – Juventus (local Turin team) vs. Real Madrid. We were at Piazza Vittorio Veneto. Within the last ten minutes of the game, when Madrid was leading 3-1, we noticed some people standing and turning away from the game. We found this a bit odd, but didn’t think too much of it. That is, until a mother of three children told them to get inside. It was clear by her hushed, stern tone that she was worried about something.
As Nick stood up and even more did, shouts could be heard coming from the direction of another piazza, along Via Po. What seemed like a millisecond later, everyone around me began sprinting away. Lost and confused, a second of panic consumed me. But, whether it was God, human instinct, or a combination of both, my second of panic dissolved as quickly as it came and my body just ran.
Reflecting now, I am grateful for that one second of panic because who’s to say I wouldn’t have been pushed or tossed aside like the many chairs and tables were.
In midst of this, Nick and I initially became separated, but he stopped and turned back after noticing and found me. He grabbed my hand and not long after he led me to be in front of him, instinct told me he was no longer right behind me. Turning around, I saw him falling over due to running into a hip high pole in the piazza (meant to stop cars). Within another second he joined me.
The only feeling I had was ‘run’. Nothing more. Nothing less. We had no idea what was going on – was a riot breaking due to Turin’s team losing? Was a bomb threat? Was it an actual bomb? Shooting? Car? No idea.
As Nick and I turned away from the piazza, I lost a flip flop. I remember saying ‘my shoe!’ But, just as quickly, my body said ‘who cares?!’ Running with one flip flop on, the other foot bare, I vaguely was making sure that I didn’t step on glass, which is pretty common to see in the city.
Another thought that crossed my mind – my stomach was churning from all the food we ate and how quickly we were running. Next second – ‘who cares? Just keep running!’ It was then that Nick began to notice that shops/restaurants were closing their doors and pulling down the metal shutters that they use at night. We ran to a nearby restaurant and huddled with others who ran inside too.
Catching our breath for a second, we realized a few things:
- Nick was in pain from running into the pole/falling but nothing major
- I had no cuts on my bare foot. It was thankfully just dirty
- I somehow still had my purse that had our keys, wallets, and my phone
- But, most importantly – that we were okay
As time passed, and everyone still unsure what was happening we looked to one another, trying to grasp some understanding. The restaurant that allowed us to enter had the news on and pictures of damage done to Piazza San Carlo were being shown. This piazza is not far from where we were relaxing just minutes before. It was so surreal…and scary.
Minutes passed. Nick and I just holding hands. Hugging. Being grateful that we found each other and made it to somewhere safe together.
When we began to notice people walking outside the windows, our adrenaline started to slow down in hopes that it was safe to return to our apartment. After another minute or so, the restaurant opened up its doors and bars. We peeked outside and everything looked fairly calm. This is when we walked quickly to our apartment for decompressing and debriefing.
Being the next day, it still seems unbelievable that we were part of a mass stampede where something serious could’ve happened to either one of us or both of us. Where many people were injured…
The news states that around those last ten minutes of the game, a combination of a barrier collapsing and a firecracker going off (which people thought were a bomb or gun shots) caused the mass hysteria. In Piazza San Carlo, where the game was being shown on a giant screen is where this started and the mass of people were just trying to get away. Unfortunately, as they were trying to get away a report of about 1,500 people were injured.
When the other restaurant customers saw the mass of people running, their first reaction was to run. We were fortunate that we were toward the beginning of the stampede in that area since we were in a square that was less crowded. That allowed us to get away.
Walking around the city today, we were able to see some of the damage left behind, which left us sad.
Here is just one picture of a broken glass window:
But, to really bring perspective on the chaos that ensued in Piazza San Carlo, here is the barrier that broke. It leads to a parking garage:
Can you imagine the amount of force that must have been used to break a railing by just people being pushed? I mean those guardrails are cemented into the concrete.
We only took these few pictures, but we did see some splatter of dark red on some sidewalks that led away from the square. This makes us think that all the red was blood left behind of those who got injured while hundreds of people tried to run to safety.
The map below gives a little perspective of where we were in respect to where the mass of people started running from. They came from the main street of Via Po:
We feel lucky and blessed for our safety and the safety of our friends who we were with last night. We want to send blessings to all those who were injured and those who were emotionally affected, especially the children that were present.
Even more so, our hearts and prayers go out to those affected by the terrible tragedy in London last night.