Pixie Lott’s fiance told how he pinned down a taxi driver who had injured 11 people after mounting a pavement and running over pedestrians outside London’s Natural History Museum.
Model Oliver Cheshire, 29, was sat in his Jaguar in Kensington when the man, said to be an Uber driver, ploughed into his vehicle.
He immediately leapt into action and helped apprehend the man, who he said was screaming on the ground.
Police have tonight ruled out terrorism and described the crash as a ‘road traffic incident’.
A man aged in his 40s was arrested at the scene on suspicion of dangerous driving and was taken to hospital for treatment before being taken to a north London police station for questioning.
It comes as the country’s current terror threat level stands at severe following a string of attacks this year and many witnesses feared the worst as panic ensued following the crash.
Mr Cheshire told MailOnline the cab driver had three female passengers in his car at the time of the crash.
He said: ‘He was driving down the pavement and hit 11 to 12 people. Then the guy was screaming. He looked at me and I was really in shock. I got out of my car and grabbed him — three of us grabbed him — and someone phoned the police.
‘The girls in his car said he was an Uber driver.’
Counter-terrorism officers were dispatched to the scene which has remained cordoned off following the crash.
Footage shows hundreds of terrified tourists fleeing as the black Toyota Prius – a registered minicab – careered into a sign before ultimately crashing into a crowd. The vehicle also hit a silver Vauxhall and Mr Cheshire’s Jaguar.
Dramatic photographs show guards holding down a man covered in blood with rubble strewn across Exhibition Road.
Nearby venues, including the Science Museum, were evacuated while Tube stations were sealed off by police.
Dramatic pictures taken at the scene show three men holding down a man covered in blood with rubble strewn across the road
Witnesses said the man was pinned to the ground by security guards before being detained by police
Oliver Cheshire, pictured with fiancee Pixie Lott, was one of the men seen pinning the driver down after the crash
Mr Cheshire immediately leapt into action and helped apprehend the man, who he said was screaming on the ground
This graphic shows the spot on Exhibition Road where the crash took place. Eleven people have been hurt in the smash
Police cars at the scene of the crash in South Kensington. The area was cordoned off following the crash
Heavily-armed masked police officers converged on the scene and search dogs were seen patrolling the area
Mr Cheshire attended the wedding of PR guru Nick Ede to partner Andrew Naylor in Shoreditch, East London, just hours after the crash. Meanwhile Pixie Lott performed at The Girlguiding Big Gig elsewhere in the city
The injured were seen sitting on steps before being bandaged up and wheeled away by paramedics. London Ambulance Service confirmed they treated 11 people, mainly for leg and head injuries, with nine taken to hospital.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he had been in ‘close contact’ with Assistant Met Commissioner Mark Rowley – the head of UK counter-terrorism policing – as authorities worked to determine whether the crash was terror-related before deciding it was not.
Today’s incident follows a series of vehicle attacks across Europe which have left well over 100 people dead in Britain, France, Germany and Stockholm.
Banker Greg King, who was walking with his friend Georgie Sheard in the area, claims he was the first person to call the police after nearly being hit by the vehicle.
The 22-year-old told MailOnline: ‘A black Toyota came ploughing straight towards us and the crowd. I heard tyres screeching and a lot of screaming and then a massive smash which was him hitting a sign and the glass falling.
‘He then swerved and went smashing into the silver car on the other side of the road which stopped him.
‘People were sprinting in all directions and then it looked like a security guard from the museum and two members of the public were pinning him down.
‘He had blood in his mouth so I assume they smashed him down on the ground.
A woman injured in the crash is pictured being wheeled away by paramedics as investigative officers arrive on the scene
Armed police were quick to arrive on the scene and a security cordon was set up to keep away other passers-by
Injured victims are seen being treated at the scene of the incident in Kensington. Nearby venues, including the Science Museum, were closed off
A forensic officer works behind a police cordon on Exhibition Road. Scotland Yard said the incident was not being treated as terror-related
A Metropolitan Police spokesman told MailOnline that police were called to the scene of the crash at 2.21pm
The taxi driver was detained at the scene after several pedestrians were mowed down by the vehicle
A member of the National Fusion Team which, according to the Thames Valley Police website, help intelligence gathering for ‘terrorism gathering and operations’
‘If he hadn’t turned in the road he would have gone straight into us. I could literally see the whites of his eyes.
‘There were loads of families. There was one guy who was running with a pram above his head while his wife held the baby so they could move faster.’
Greg continued: ‘If he hadn’t done that turn at the last moment we would have been hit and he could have taken everyone down on that side of the road.
‘The car was still practically in motion when I picked up the phone to the police. The woman said: “What do you need?” and I just said: “Send everyone”. Within seconds I could see helicopters overhead.
Cab driver Simon Stylinaou said there were ‘hundreds of people’ queuing up for the museum when the driver struck.
‘I was sitting in the car and I heard a banging noise,’ he told MailOnline. ‘I turned around to the right and saw him come around and hit my car.
A local restaurant owner told MailOnline: ‘People started running into the restaurant, people were running around on the street’
‘Then I got out of the car and there was the guy on the floor with people holding him down and there was blood gushing out of his head.
‘There were hundreds of people queuing up for the museum.’
‘It was obvious to me that it wasn’t an accident as it was a pedestrianised zone and cars should have been going along slowly anyway.
‘Then the minute someone had him on the ground he wasn’t saying anything or struggling. He’d be shouting if it was a mistake.’
Georgie Sheard, 21, a student from Warwickshire, said: ‘It was literally so close. If we were 10 steps ahead it would have been us hit. I just froze. It happened so quickly I just didn’t know what to do.’
Cab driver Simon Stylinaou (pictured) said there were ‘hundreds of people queuing up for the museum’ when the driver struck
Amy Philips, 28, was driving towards Harrods department store with her son and husband when she heard horns blaring and people screaming outside the Natural History museum.
The mother-of-one from Berkshire told MailOnline that many feared it was a terror attack.
She said: ‘We just saw people running and screaming. I heard one woman shrieking “there’s a terrorist, run, run”.
‘There were lots of Chinese tourists sprinting away and we heard one woman say it was just like the Barcelona terror attack.
‘We managed to turn the car around but it was very scary’.
Timothyna Duncan, a 23-year-old Imperial College student from the USA, told MailOnline: ‘It is very chaotic, and there are many police here and they seem confused about what is going on.
‘They just don’t know what’s happening and are scared that it is a terrorist attack. Some people in the area are a bit tense and they are leaving their houses.’
WHY WERE PAVEMENTS AND BOLLARDS REMOVED FROM EXHIBITION ROAD?
Exhibition Road was re-opened in 2012 with all barriers removed. The aim was to make cars and people co-exist harmoniously – without the need for hectoring signs and protective steel barriers.
It is visited by millions of people from around Britain and the world but doesn’t even have kerbs or pavements.
The idea underlining the project was that when nannying rules and orders – in the form of countless signs, traffic signals and barriers – are removed, motorists take more personal responsibility for their own actions and drive more attentively, making more eye contact with pedestrians.
Before and after: Exhibition Road in January 2010 (left) and November 2011 (right), after the refurbishment
It emerged in June the former mayor of London Boris Johnson removed steel safety railings on London Bridge because they were ‘ugly’.
The barriers were taken down in 2010 leaving pedestrians vulnerable to vehicle attacks such as the ISIS massacre earlier this year which eight people were killed and dozens of others injured.
The attackers’ van mounted the bridge’s pavement at 50mph and ploughed into people before the men left the vehicle and stabbed others.
The day after the atrocity, security officials quickly rushed in new guard rails in a bid to keep people walking through the tourist hotspot safe.
Boris scrapped hundreds of miles of the metal bars across the city in a bid to make the streets of the capital less ‘cluttered’ under a Transport for London initiative. The idea originated from the Netherlands where cities like Amsterdam where pavements and roads are made level to cater for cyclists.
The railings were also removed from busy areas including Kings Cross and Hyde Park in a bid to prevent cyclists from being trapped between the barriers and traffic, according to the Daily Star.
Despite a warning from counter-terrorism officers that Britain faces an ‘unprecedented’ risk of more vehicle attacks, Mayor Sadiq Khan’s TfL last night said it planned to continue pulling down the balustrades.
A spokesman said: ‘Guardrail was removed in 2010 as part of a programme to improve safety – preventing vulnerable road users such as cyclists becoming trapped between railings and traffic – as well as reducing street clutter across London.
A woman is treated by a London Ambulance Service paramedic near Cromwell Gardens in London, near where the incident took place
Enamul Hoque was in a nearby Chinese restaurant when events unfolded. He told Sky News he saw people running in Exhibition Road, adding: ‘Then all of a sudden … a large gathering of policemen turned up in yellow vests’
Police on Exhibition Road. The aim of the street’s design was to make cars and people co-exist harmoniously – without the need for hectoring signs and protective steel barriers
Witness Katie Craine said she was coming out of the museum when she saw a man in handcuffs pinned down by police near a damaged car
Shopkeepers were told to evacuate and police established a large security cordon around the area minutes after the incident, closing some roads. Police helicopters circled the scene overhead
A local restaurant owner added: ‘People started running into the restaurant, people were running around on the street.
‘A policeman was shouting at us at the door to get out. Now I’m trying to calm down my staff.’
Witness Katie Craine said she was coming out of the museum when she saw a man in handcuffs pinned down by police near a damaged car. ‘He looked really proud of himself,’ she said. ‘He was laughing.’
One witness, identified only as Katy, told LBC London she had seen two people injured, including a little boy who had hurt his leg and a woman who was ‘not moving’.
Another onlooker named James Foster tweeted: ‘Just been locked in a cafe near South Kensington Tube. Crazy. But better to be safe. Really hope nobody is seriously hurt.’
Axel Kronholm, who was visiting the Victoria and Albert museum, wrote online: ‘We slipped out just before they had time to close. A police officer was waving people to move back from the incident and mentioned in passing it was an incident with a car.’
A police officer carries material in blue bin bags away from the scene of the incident in South Kensington. Downing Street said British Prime Minister Theresa May was being briefed on the incident
Minister for London Greg Hands said on Twitter: ‘Concerned at events at the Natural History Museum. Watching developments closely & thankful to our emergency services’
Armed police were deployed to the scene, which is also near the Science Museum, and the whole area was subsequently cordoned off
One witness, identified only as Katy, told LBC London radio she had seen two people injured, including a little boy who had hurt his leg and a woman who was ‘not moving’
Two women walk alongside a police officer to the outside of the police cordon on Exhibition Road near the Natural History Museum
A woman is led through a police cordon near the Natural History Museum by a paramedic while wearing a red blanket
American couple Annie Cutting and Joseph Degraff, both 23, were caught in the aftermath as they sat in a cafe on Exhibition Road while on holiday in the capital from Washington DC.
Mr Degraff said: ‘We saw a large stampede of people running and thought, “what’s going on?”
‘Someone who works in the cafe said, “get on the ground”. We hit the floor. We were there for a few seconds, then they told everyone to get in the basement.
‘At that point I thought it was a shooting or a bomb or something. We just didn’t know.
‘The police told everyone to get out of the cafe and we got out and ran.’
The pair described the situation as ‘scary’ and Ms Cutting said she fell over as they fled the cafe.
Co-director of The Plastic Tide Ellie Mackay, 29, was working in her apartment just 50 metres from the incident when she heard the crash at 2:30pm. She said: ‘I saw a dad dragging his kids along Exhibition Road and urging them to hurry up’
A forensic officer lays down markers near where the car crashed into pedestrians outside the Natural History Museum in south Kensington
Eye-witnesses have described how armed police and helicopters were on the scene ‘in seconds’
Police officers stand next to a person with a bandaged ankle near the Natural History Museum
Workers in a cafe close the incident told how people fled the scene in a panic as police evacuated the area.
Merilin Mueller, 20, said: ‘It just seemed like an accident because there was a police car. We couldn’t see outside.
‘Then there were loads of police cars and that’s when all of these police came marching down saying, ‘move, move’. They said, ‘you need to evacuate’.’
Her colleague at Brown and Rosie, Kayla Spark, 23, said: ‘They came into the shop really aggressively.’
She added: ‘Someone outside said they heard what sounded like gunshots, but I think it was just the car colliding.’
Dieon Rurora, 25, who also works in the cafe, said: ‘People were running down the street, falling over. It was quite scary.’
Nearby museums including the Science Museum and Victoria and Albert Museum were evacuated with Tube stations sealed off by police
Roxanne Dervliet, from Bristol, told the Sun Online: ‘We’d just walked past the museum and saw what looked like a car crashed into a building.
‘There were 100-odd people running away. Police were directing people out of the way and I think one person started running and it set everyone off. I was shaking, my friend was crying. We’re all shook up.’
Another onlooker at the scene said: ‘We were walking near the Science Museum and heard a bang, bang… at first I thought it was gunfire.
‘Then we walked past the scene of the accident and saw a guy pinned down by other men and lots of people calling the police.
‘There didn’t appear to be many people hurt – a few sat by the side of the road but more looking shaken than anything.
‘We were then ushered into the Science Museum and the area was quickly cleared of pedestrians.’
Another eyewitness said she had been walking down Exhibition Road when she heard a loud bang. She said a little boy around eight or nine had been injured along with a woman.
The witness told the radio station she believed the boy had broken his leg but was responsive but said the woman ‘wasn’t moving’.
She said: ‘The ambulance took about ten minutes to arrive, all the officials from the museum were trying to help but a lot of people were standing around very scared.’
A British Transport Police officer with a dog walks past a cafe behind the police cordon near the Natural History Museum in South Kensington
Crowds of people – many taking photographs on mobile phones – were held back behind a police cordon around the popular attraction
Filmmaker and co-director of The Plastic Tide Ellie Mackay, 29, was working in her apartment just 50 metres from the incident when she heard the crash at 2:30pm.
She said: ‘I was sat at my desk when I heard the crash. There was a loud bang, as the car smashed into others. At first I didn’t take much notice, but all of a sudden people started running away and I knew it wasn’t a normal accident.
‘I saw a dad dragging his kids along Exhibition Road and urging them to hurry up, and then they were followed by streams of people. They were screaming and running like a typical worst nightmare scenario. It put me in mind of Las Vegas.
‘Then the alarm went off in South Kensington station and everyone began to evacuate. Police officers were going into the restaurants and telling people to leave.
A BBC reporter at the scene said she could see a car diagonally across the road surrounded by a crowd of people with one or two on the ground. She said she was told by police injuries sustained were minor
The Natural History Museum is the fourth most popular tourist attraction in the United Kingdom, with 4.6 million visits during 2016, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attraction. Pictured: Police at the scene today
‘Within what seemed like seconds there was a helicopter overhead and four or five vans of armed police racing down the streets, as well as bomb disposal units. I was impressed by how fast they were to respond.
‘There are 23 officers standing in the streets now, and another ten forming a barrier on Exhibition Road.’
One local shopkeeper, who saw the car crash into another, told Sky News: ‘There was lots of panic. When I heard the crash I looked out and saw people running.
‘I saw two police officers take the man out of the car and pin him to the ground.
‘Thirty minutes later they evacuated the whole street. There were at least ten police cars on the scene.’
Police said they are working to establish the circumstances of the crash and more details would be released later
One shocked onlooker wrote on Twitter: ‘Just witnessed a car drive into people in London. Safe for now please message your friends if they’re here near the national museum.’
A London Ambulance Service spokesman added: ‘At just after 2.20pm today, we received reports of an incident at Cromwell Road, South Kensington.
‘We sent multiple resources to the scene, including our hazardous area response team, ambulance crews, paramedics in fast response cars and incident response officers.
‘We treated 11 patients, mostly for leg and head injuries, and took nine of them to hospital.
‘We have worked closely with other members of the emergency services at the scene, with our priority being to get people to safety and ensure they received the medical help they needed as quickly as possible.’
The Natural History Museum has now been shut to visitors and no one is allowed to enter, according to a spokesman for the attraction
Crowds in the busy tourist spot in South Kensington, which is also home to the Victoria & Albert Museum and the Science Museum, fled screaming in panic
South Kensington, where police are pictured today, is a busy area popular with tourists. Pictured: Dozens of police cars at the scene
Downing Street said that Prime Minister Theresa May was being kept up to date with developments.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted: ‘Very concerning reports from outside the Natural History Museum. My thoughts are with those injured and our thanks to the emergency services.’
The Natural History Museum tweeted: ‘There’s been a serious incident outside the Museum.
‘We are working w/ @metpoliceuk and will provide an update when we have more information.’
A spokesman added that no one was being allowed into the building and people were being let out through a different exit.
A spokesman for Transport for London said they would be assisting police with their inquiries if they were asked.
He said: ‘We are not making any statements, all the information will be coming from the Metropolitan Police.’
The spokesman said it was difficult at this stage to comment because it was unclear what happened. He said: ‘I’m not even aware which vehicle ultimately caused the crash.’
In March, a man drove a car into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge killing four before stabbing a police officer to death in the grounds of parliament.
Three Islamist militants drove into people on London Bridge in June before stabbing people at nearby restaurants and bars, killing eight. The same month, a van was driven into worshippers near a mosque in north London which left one man dead.
The Natural History Museum attracted more than 4.6 million visitors in 2016, while other popular attractions in the area are also on the list of must-see sights for visitors to the capital.
Exhibition Road in South Kensington, where the incident took place, is also home to the Science Museum as well as the Victoria and Albert Museum.
Those museums attracted more than three million visitors each in 2016, according to the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions.
The Royal Albert Hall and Imperial College are also in the area, which was dubbed ‘Albertopolis’ after the husband of Queen Victoria.
Prince Albert recommended that the proceeds of the 1851 Great Exhibition should be used to purchase the land south of Hyde Park for a new cultural quarter in the capital.
Today’s incident comes as thousands of football fans have gathered on London’s Park Lane in a demonstration against extremism.
The protest, which FLA founder John Meighan said was arranged to demonstrate concern at the ‘recent upsurge’ of UK terror attacks, was policed by dozens of officers amid criticism from charity Stand Up To Racism.