'People are running down our street screaming': Bendigo locals caught up in Barcelona attacks

Tributes started almost instantly after the attacks in Barcelona. Picture: Sasha Vedelsby
Tributes started almost instantly after the attacks in Barcelona. Picture: Sasha Vedelsby

BENDIGO’S Vedelsby family were safely inside their apartment on La Ramblas in Barcelona when they heard commotion outside.

“Finn opened the full length windows and I thought it was very noisy,” Sasha Vedelsby said.

“Finn said: ‘There’s something going on outside… I think it’s something bad! People are running down our street screaming’.”

They turned on the news and saw live images from outside of their apartment. A van had driven down the busy tourist strip of La Ramblas killing 13 people and injuring 120 – the deadliest terror attack in Spain in 13 years. 

The family had missed calls from their Spanish apartment owner, wondering if they were alright.

Police put their building in lockdown.

“All the shops and restaurants outside immediately shut and locked their doors and closed shutters,” Ms Vedelsby said.

“Some people running for their lives hid in the shops while they were in lockdown. There was a helicopter flying around until well after midnight when we all went to bed.”

Crowds gather on La Ramblas in Barcelona the day after the deadly terrorist attack. Picture: Sasha Vedelsby

Crowds gather on La Ramblas in Barcelona the day after the deadly terrorist attack. Picture: Sasha Vedelsby

The family of three arrived had their apartment at 2.30pm on Thursday. The attack occurred just over two hours later.

Related: Father of missing Australian boy, 7, arrives in Barcelona as hopes fade

Finn Vedelsby, director and founder of Bendigo’s Rocks on Rosalind, ventured out into La Ramblas with Sasha and their four-year-old son Dane the next morning. They were joined by thousands of others standing in solidarity against the deadly attacks.

Spontaneous applause broke out at the point where the last person was killed.

“The Spaniards broke out into huge applause and chanted very angrily and loudly, ‘No tenin por’ (we are not afraid),” Ms Vedelsby said.

“Police with bullet proof vests and machine guns were everywhere, and La Ramblas was still closed to traffic.”

The applause and chanting continued up La Ramblas to Placa Catalunya, where a giant protest had formed with banners and more police.

But, suddenly, fear struck the crowd once again.

“All of a sudden people started running towards us  screaming like the day before,” Ms Vedelsby said.

“We grabbed our son and ran full pelt into a hotel.”

It was a false alarm, but showed the family the level of uncertainty that remained in central Barcelona.