Chris Parker, 33, told Press Association that he was in the arena’s foyer, where he would often go to beg for money from concertgoers as they exit, when the blast tore through knocking him down.
“Everyone was piling out, all happy and everything else. As people were coming out of the glass doors I heard a bang and within a split second I saw a white flash, then smoke and then I heard screaming,” Chris told Press Association.
Instead of running away, the man went to help some of the people he saw injured in the attack.
“I saw a little girl … she had no legs. I wrapped her in one of the merchandise T-shirts and I said, ‘Where is your mum and daddy?’ She said, ‘My dad is at work, my mum is up there’.”
Chris, who said he hadn’t stopped crying since the attack, also found himself in the horrific position of holding a woman with serious leg and head injuries as she died.
“She passed away in my arms. She was in her 60s and said she had been with her family,” he said.
A GoFundMe page hailing Chris a “hero” has been set up to raise money for the man who has been sleeping rough in the city for about a year.
Jessica Parker, a woman claiming to be the man’s mother, wrote on the page that she was “desperate” to get in touch with him.
“We have been estranged for a very long time and I had no idea he was homeless. I am very proud of him and I think he might need me right now.”
‘We had to pull nails out of their arms and faces.’
Stephen Jones, 35, had been sleeping near the venue when he heard a loud bang that he first thought was fireworks.
“I then realised what was happening and saw children coming out, screaming and covered in blood,” Stephen told ITV News.
The man described attempting to help wounded and bloodied children and having to “pull nails and bits of glass out of their arms and faces”.