A horror-stricken mum hid in terror with her young family just feet from the gunman who slaughtered 30 Brits in the Tunisian massacre.
Andrea Scott, her son Jonathan Scott, 15, Hartlepool college student daughter Rebecca Scott, 17, and Rebecca’s 18-year-old boyfriend Owen Lucas cowered for five hours in a darkened bathroom in the Bellevue Park hotel in Sousse, Tunisia, to escape the crazed killer.
The four had to run for their lives from the idyllic beach when an Islamic State gunman opened fire, massacring innocent holiday-makers just 40ft from the sun loungers where they were relaxing.
As they fled in sheer panic, Andrea turned and saw other tourists covered in blood, heard their screams as gunshots were fired and grenades were detonated, and even saw two para-gliders come hurtling to the ground.
The family barricaded the doors and windows of their room using the beds and other furniture before they took cover in the bathroom.
They even said their last goodbyes when they texted family to say they loved them, fearing they would never see them again.
I can’t describe the fear of running and thinking you are going to be shot in the back.Andrea Scott
At one point the family feared the gunman could have even been at the door when they heard a knocking and a “chilling” voice shouted “British”.
Hours later Jonathan and Andrea crept out and looked from the patio window of their room, which was on the first floor, and saw a gunman walking around the grounds of their hotel just 15ft away from them.
“I could never explain to anybody what it was like,” said Andrea, whose daughter Rebecca is a student at Hartlepool Sixth Form College studying art and photography. “Towards the end of the five hours of us being in that bathroom, I began to wish that he would have just taken us out because I couldn’t do it any longer.
“Seeing your kids so frightened and fearing for their lives was awful, it was horrific.”
Andrea, of Cornfield Garth, in the Dene House area of Peterlee, added: “I knew it was bad from the second I heard the first shot when we were on the sun loungers.
“My gut instinct was to shout to the kids ‘grab your bags and run for your lives’. We started running in sheer panic. The kids were in front of me and I was looking behind and I could just see people covered in blood.
“I can’t describe the fear of running and thinking you are going to be shot in the back.
“We reached the hotel and found some stairs going up the side of the hotel instead of going into the reception where we normally would have. We later found out that two gunmen had walked into the reception of our hotel.
“As we were running, the maids were all running for cover. We ran into Rebecca and Owen’s room and barricaded ourselves in. We sat on the floor in silence and another gunshot went off. We were just cuddling each other and saying we loved each other. We thought we were going to die.”
Andrea was texting her boss back at KNS Automotives in Peterlee who was giving her updates on the situation from TV news.
It was information from him, and the silence outside the hotel which gave Andrea and her family the courage to venture down to the reception where other holiday makers were wandering around in a hushed panic eagerly trying to get information and organise their return home.
Andrea, Shotton Hall Academy pupil Jonathan, Rebecca, and shop assistant Owen, from Easington, got on a coach from the hotel at midnight on Saturday night – just two days into their week-long break – and got a flight from Tunisia to Doncaster at around 4.30am.
They were met by anti-terror police who are due to go out and interview the family today about the attacks.
Andrea said: “I don’t think we’ll ever get over it. I feel so sorry for the people who lost their lives. We will be going for counselling.”
The gunman was shot dead by police after the attack on Friday, he’s been named as Seifeddine Rezgui by Tunisian officials. Islamic State claim they are behind the attack. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office is advising against all travel to several areas of Tunisia.
n Anyone concerned about friends or family in Tunisia should call (0207) 0080000, or text Tunisia to +447860010026.