Sheffield couple narrowly avoid Barcelona terror attack horror after last-minute change of plans

Gemma France and her partner Jon Procter
Gemma France and her partner Jon Procter
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A Sheffield couple have narrowly avoided being caught up in the horrific Barcelona terror attack on Thursday after a last-minute decision not to visit Las Ramblas.

Gemma France, 34, and her fiancé Jon Procter 33, were visiting the Spanish city but decided to spend the last day of their holiday at a nearby beach.

Howerver, as the couple returned to their hotel, a ten-minute walk away from Las Ramblas, they were met with traumatic scenes and a heavy police presence.

At least 13 people were killed and 100 injured after a rented van ploughed into tourists and locals on the busy tourist street.

Gemma, who lives in Beighton, said: "Luckily we weren't in the heat of the attack as we decided to spend the day at the beach.

"But just before we left, a local family to the side of us received a phone call and we could tell by their expressions it wasn't good news.

"We got a taxi back to our hotel and he told us about what had happened but he assumed the driver was drunk.

"But when we arrived at the bottom of Las Ramblas we knew something awful had happened. The amount of people there was unbelievable; there were people crying, people on their phones, people videoing the scenes and police and sirens everywhere."

Spanish police have arrested three people after the white Fiat van careered into terrified pedestrians in the busy tree-lined promenade.

ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attack but the driver of the van, believed to be the sole attacker, is still being hunted after fleeing on foot.

Businesses have begun reopening on Las Ramblas this morning as Barcelona starts getting back to normal but Gemma said it was a very different scene last night.

"We could hear all the sirens and the helicopters flying over our hotel," she explained.

"The hotel staff brought us a big bottle of water up so at that time because we weren't safe to leave the room.

"We finally left the hotel around 10pm but for 20 minutes. Although there were people out the atmosphere was low.

"The police were out on the corners and riot vans/ police cars and police bikes were speeding past us with sirens on.

The couple, who are set to marry in 2019, will fly back to England today but said they feel lucky that they narrowly avoided the deadly attack.

"We had only been on the Ramblas 14 hours before and I'm so thankful we decided not to go there yesterday and spend the day on the beach," Gemma said.