'I feared the worst', says father of 14-year-old who survived Manchester terror attack

Daughter escaped blast only because she was told to take a different exit from the arena


A Jewish father has told how he feared the worst for his 14-year-old daughter and her three King David High School friends who were at the Manchester Arena when a suicide bomber detonated a bomb which killed 22 people.

With his voice still trembling with emotion as he relived the terrifying ordeal only hours earlier, Joel  Lever told the JC:”I feared the very worst – not just for my beautiful daughter but also for the three other girls she had taken along to see Ariana Grande in concert.

“I was waiting at the bottom of the stairs having texted my daughter just before 10.30pm to tell her leave from the exit above.

“All of a sudden this bang came from the top of the stairs from the very same area I knew they would walk out from.

“It literally made me shudder and I felt it go right through my chest.

“The doors of the arena flung open and there was just this stampede of people – like a cascade.

“I still hadn’t heard from my daughter – and my thoughts then turned to whether or not there would be a second bomb. My heart just sunk.

“I  just couldn’t get hold of my daughter. Parents were screaming, kids were screaming, everyone was falling over each other, sirens were wailing, police officers were shouting ‘get back!’. It was horrendous and surreal.  A nightmare.”

Mr Lever, who lives in Whitefield, in north Manchester, said he felt “like I’d just won the lottery” when he eventually received a phone call from his daughter, who he asked the JC not to name.

The four girls avoided being caught in the explosion only because they had been told by staff to exit the venue by a different route.

Mr Lever and his wife had arrived at the arena at 10.15pm on Monday. His wife remained in their car while he went to meet his daughter.

After repeatedly texting his daughter to remind her to leave the concert before the very end Mr Lever said he eventually received an “OK” message in reply at around 10.30pm.

The device, which has left more than 59 people injured, was taken into the venue by a lone attacker, and exploded at around 10.40pm.

Mr Lever said: “Finally I got hold of my daughter, took her out to the car and we made a quick getaway. Thankfully she’d done as I asked so she’d been near the exit. We only found out later that it was a terrorist attack.

“As we drove away we saw the police cars and ambulances pouring towards the venue.”

Mr Lever, who once appeared on TV’s Strictly Manchester show, described the perpertrators of the attack as "animals".

He told the JC:” They’ve been waiting to do something in Manchester for a while now.

“ It’s despicable, and it’s about time someone stood up for them and did something about it.

“They’re animals, with no respect for human life. Something’s got to happen. Life’s sacred, but they’re not interested in that. It turns my stomach.

“This morning, I had an early business meeting but you couldn’t get anywhere, it was like a ring of steel. Everyone’s very glum today, they’re all wondering why. “

Mr Lever said his daughter and her friends had attended school today because they have examinations.

A spokeswoman for King David High School said several of its students were at the concert. “They have access to a student welfare officer should they choose to come in,” she said. “The attack was senseless and shocking, and affects people from all over, not just Manchester.”

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