Page last updated at 13:41 GMT, Thursday, 29 December 2005

'I will take 7 July to the grave'

Behind the worldwide headlines after the 7 July bombings lay hundreds of individual stories of bravery, hope and loss. Among those who experienced the horrors was Gary Stevens, duty manager of Russell Square Tube station.

Gary Stevens
Gary Stevens returned to work soon after the 7 July bombings

He was the first person to reach the carriage torn apart by the King's Cross explosion, which killed 26 people. Mr Stevens spoke to BBC Breakfast's Altered Lives series.

It's a day I'll never forget. It will go to the grave with me. It won't ever go away.

On the seventh of July I should have started at 9 O'Clock. I woke early, I couldn't sleep and decided to come into work early.

At 8.54 all the lights flickered in the office. We were looking down the platform and we saw a light in the westbound tunnel. The driver of train 311 and about 30 customers, some of them seriously injured, had got out of the train themselves when the bomb had gone off, and we helped them up.

I asked the driver, I said: "What's happened?" And he didn't say it was a bomb, he just said: "Something terrible's happened, I don't know what, but something terrible's happened."

I spent 40 minutes down there on my own before the fire brigade got there and it was the longest 40 minutes of my life

I jumped down on to the track and made my way along the tunnel. The smoke and the dust began got thicker and thicker and I couldn't see beyond my hand at one point. It wasn't until I got to the train and see a young lad who'd had his leg blown off that it dawned on me then it was a bomb.

I got into the first car and spoke to quite a few of the injured and it's a sight that I'll never ever forget for the rest of my life.

I spent 40 minutes down there on my own before the fire brigade got there and it was the longest 40 minutes of my life, it seemed like four months.

I just reassured them - there was nothing else I could do, it was like trying to stop a tidal wave with a balloon.

Alexander Chadwick took this picture on his mobile phone camera as commuters were  evacuated. after the King's Cross bomb.
Tube staff helped commuters through the tunnel

We were escorting customers back down the tunnel. Those who could walk we supported and we walked along with them, those who couldn't we put into sheets and blankets and carried them.

For the immediate time after what had happened I relived it time and time again, it was like a recurring nightmare.

Back to work

One of the reasons I came back to work quickly after was to prove to the people who carried this atrocity out that they're not going to affect us.

It's my job, it's what I do. I take pride in what I do. I'd do the same thing again tomorrow as I did on the seventh. If people need help that's what we're here for - to help.

If we were successful in only saving one I feel we've achieved something.

Hopefully we saved quite a few and there are still families out there who will be spending Christmas together and hopefully that's a reflection upon the staff and emergency services at Russell Square.

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