They Went to Manchester Arena as Homeless Men. They Left as Heroes.

He pulled nails out of children's arms and from the face of a small girl. He comforted another girl who had lost her legs, wrapping her in a T-shirt. He cradled a dying woman in his arms.

LONDON — Chris Parker was there, reportedly, because it was a good place to beg. Stephen Jones, 35, was sleeping nearby. Now, both homeless men are being praised as heroes after the Manchester Arena bombing.

As Manchester and the rest of Britain were trying to come to terms with the country’s deadliest terrorist attack in more than a decade, the two men are being hailed on social media for their selflessness and courage.

Mr. Parker, 33, was panhandling in the concourse area outside the arena when the bomb exploded, according to local news reports. The force of the blast knocked him to the floor, but he was unfazed.

Rather than running for safety, he went to the aid of victims, comforting a girl who had lost her legs, wrapping her in a T-shirt, and cradling a dying woman in his arms.

Mr. Jones says he pulled nails out of children’s arms and faces.

“Just because I am homeless doesn’t mean I haven’t got a heart, or I’m not human still,” Mr. Jones told ITV News. “I’d like to think someone would come and help me if I needed the help,” he said, adding that he had been overcome by an “instinct” to pitch in.

“It was children,” he continued. “It was a lot of children with blood all over them and crying and screaming.”

Mr. Parker told the news agency Press Association that amid the smoke and shrieks after the explosion he saw a little girl. “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,’ ” he was quoted as saying.

He also said he had tried to help an older woman who had head and leg injuries, but that she died in his arms.

“She was in her 60s, and she had been with her family. I haven’t stopped crying,” he told the Press Association. “The most shocking part of it is that it was a kids’ concert.”

After his actions became known, an online fund-raising page was set up for Mr. Parker. By early afternoon on Wednesday it had raised 30,000 pounds, or almost $40,000.

Another fund, for Mr. Jones, was listed on the JustGiving site.

The tragedy may also have helped to heal a family rift. After hearing about what Mr. Parker had done, his mother reached out.

“This is my son and I am desperate to get in touch with him,” she wrote on the fund-raising page. “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.”

Source: New York Times

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