Bundy friends metres from fatal Times Square rampage
"JEREMY saw the car hit the bollards but I didn't, I just swung my head around to see the car on the bollards and it catch alight underneath.
"The occupants fled the car, and it took a few seconds for us to realise that they were running away.”
In the seconds of panic following a fatal car crash in the middle of one of the world's most ubiquitous tourist havens, a group of young Bundy locals witnessed it all.
Former Shalom College student Brooke Olive, 18, her boyfriend Andy and their friend Jeremy landed in New York a week ago to begin the trip of a lifetime.
But while they walked through Times Square on Thursday morning they found themselves looking on as a motorist jumped the curb and hurtled down the footpath for three blocks, killing an 18-year-old woman and injuring about 20 others.
In a sliding doors moment, they had stopped to take photos next to a fire truck less than 50 metres from where the car, driven deliberately by a Navy veteran with mental health issues, came to a fiery halt.
"We honestly just started walking down the street after taking photos and got to the rear end of the fire truck when we heard a really loud bang,” Ms Olive told the NewsMail from New York.
By the time they realised crowds were fleeing the scene, "at least 10 people - including some who were nearly hit - jumped on the two guys.
"(They) were quite angry and weren't very gentle with throwing them to the road and waiting for the police to arrest them, which took all of 30 seconds.”
The police were very quick to clear the scene, Ms Olive said.
"They just marched everyone away from the area to the next block but I still got some photos before they moved us.
"We could have jumped in on the action of getting on the people but honestly we were a bit confused about what the heck was going on - we had no clue that he had injured so many.
"I only saw one person get injured and dragged away from the wreckage - he was fine, maybe a broken leg.
"We looked at the CCTV footage that got uploaded to Facebook and couldn't believe how many people he mowed down.
"It was weird, there were no screams before the bang of the collision.
"Considering the amount of people run over before the car stopped you would have thought some people would have had a heads-up at least ... It honestly must have happened so fast that no one could anticipate it.”
The friends managed to capture video of the chaotic scene.
"The police really did a good effort with ushering everyone away, so we really didn't see much else.”
At this point the trio were still in a state of confusion.
"We were a bit shaken, but we didn't know until later that the person died,” Ms Olive said.
"I think if we knew we would have been a lot more shocked and upset.”
She said the incident had not put a dampener on their travels.
"Look, its scary,” she said, "but its not going to put a black mark next to New York's name for me.”
Meanwhile, mum and dad, Tracy and Greg Olive, woke up to the news back home in Bundaberg.
"Mum and dad called us,” Brooke said.
"I was waiting to tell them until they woke up as the time difference is 14 hours, because if I message my mum in the night she wakes up and I really didn't want to worry them.
"But they woke up and immediately saw it on Sunrise. Dad, I'm sure, would have almost had a heart attack as he is really fretting with me being away in different countries not under his protection. I'm sure it's a daddy-daughter thing.”
Nothing has changed in New York City, Ms Olive said.
But the three friends haven't been back to Times Square.
"Not because we didn't want to, only because we have such a limited time here and there are better things to do, like cycling over the Brooklyn Bridge, catching the ferry past the Statue of Liberty, and visiting Chinatown, all of which we have done.”
Next stop for the intrepid travellers is Florida, Mexico and South America.