Jess Kirby and her husband were on their way to Gatwick Airport to catch a flight back to America when they heard the North Terminal was being evacuated following the discovery of a suspicious package.
Less than 24 hours earlier, Mrs Kirby’s brother, Josh Loden, had a lucky escape after being turned away from one of the restaurants targeted by gunmen in Paris.
Mrs Kirby said: “I arrived in the UK on November 3 to visit family. My brother left the US last Wednesday to visit friends he met at the University of Portsmouth, when he was studying abroad.
“He left for Paris yesterday morning. My mum didn’t hear from him all day. I saw news on Facebook about 15 minutes after BBC had announced what had happened in Paris.
“We weren’t able to contact him for about an hour after news broke. When we finally did contact him, he didn’t know about the magnitude about what had happened. He was supposed to dine at one of the IS targets but couldn’t get in because it was full.
“He stayed in Paris this morning. He left a little while ago on a Eurostar train and had his flight back to the US rebooked for tomorrow because he is so scared and shocked.
“As far as Gatwick went, my husband and I arrived at South Terminal and got onto the monorail shuttle to North Terminal before they shut it down.
“We sat on the shuttle for about half an hour with very little news. A fellow traveller then said she saw on Twitter it was due to a security incident in the North Terminal and that’s why we weren’t moving.
“We disembarked the shuttle to go get a taxi about 30 seconds before they said the North Terminal had been evacuated and everyone was to get off the shuttle.
“Once evacuated, no one was allowed to get into the North Terminal. Passengers still arrived in the South Terminal.
“We were stunned to see the amount of people crowding. My husband and I called our airline and rebooked for a flight out of Heathrow. We left on a train to Victoria station to get to the tube. Our flight leaves Heathrow at 8:30.
“My whole family and friends in the US knew we were travelling and are all very worried about us. We are very lucky. My husband and I are on our way to an extended stopover in Iceland. We are due back in the States on Monday. My brother leaves tomorrow morning.
“We definitely have someone watching over us.”
Mrs Kirby took to Twitter to thank Sussex Police and staff at Gatwick Airport for keeping them safe during the security scare.
She added: “I was super impressed. They didn’t give too much information to incite panic but they gave enough to let us know what was going on. There was one Gatwick employee on a megaphone. He gave announcements every minute.
“They were kind, calm and informative.”
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