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Choking and coughing up blood: Teen speaks of ordeal after gas canister set off in Stafford McDonald's

Staffordshire | News | Published:

A teenager has described how she was left coughing up blood after a gas canister was let off in a branch of McDonald's in Stafford.

Shannon Tinkler, aged 17, was taken to hospital after inhaling the gas on Monday night.

Three teenagers were arrested yesterday on suspicion of administering a noxious substance inside the Eccleshall Road outlet.

The incident at around 8.30pm, saw Shannon and another victim taken to hospital suffering severe abdominal pain and severe breathing difficulties.

Twelve others, who were all in the restaurant at the time, needed medical treatment from paramedics at the scene.

Shannon said, who delivers the Express & Star, said: "I had just finished working at the fair around the corner and came down to get a burger.

"I saw my mates in there so we sat down and about five minutes later a group of people came in and they got their meal and sat down.

"About another 10 or 20 minutes after they let off a gas bomb – I started coughing and choking for a good 10 minutes but I thought it was just me being silly.

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"But little kids starting coughing, their parents started coughing so they went outside and then 20 minutes later the manager came out and got everyone to get out.

"Then I started coughing up blood and having nose bleeds and I was sick – the police came in and we waited while the fire service were seeing what the gas was.

"Then I got in the ambulance and my clothes really stunk of it so they had to take my clothes and I had to wear a contamination suit. I was taken to hospital at around 2am and didn't get out until about four in the morning."

A paramedic area support officer and three ambulances attended the incident along with police and fire. Police officers are currently trawling through CCTV evidence as part of their investigation.

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The 24-hour restaurant was forced to shut for around four-and-a-half hours on Monday night and yesterday, half of the dining area was still cordoned with police tape.

Restaurant manager, Sarah Astle, said: "All that we're aware of is that we had a group of six or seven – a mixture of females and males – in the dining area with some food.

"Some form of canister has gone off, we're unsure what that was at the moment. A couple have had a few issues with breathing and then the police were called.

"I think that because the canister went off and it wasn't a visible gas we weren't aware that anything had actually happened. It wasn't until a couple of people noticed there was something at the back of their throat.

"Everyone was evacuated straight away and it was quite calm and organised in the way it was done, which is down to my team and staff.

"I've worked for McDonald's for 21 years now and there's been a fair few incidents but in relation to anything where we've ever been evacuated because of something like this, this is the first time.

"We've had customers checking and not being sure if we're open because there's been a lot of speculation on Facebook."

A West Midlands Ambulance Service spokeswoman said: "Upon arrival, ambulance staff found 12 people outside McDonald's who had exited the restaurant after a canister had been released inside.

"The 12 patients, made up of staff and customers, were suffering varying degrees of respiratory and stomach irritation. Of the 12 patients assessed on scene by ambulance staff, two teenage girls needed further hospital treatment. A 17-year-old girl had severe respiratory irritation while an 18-year-old girl had severe abdominal pains.

"Both were taken by land ambulance to Royal Stoke University Hospital. The remaining patients were discharged on scene.

"Due to the number of patients affected and the type of incident, it was a protracted case, which saw ambulance staff on scene for around four hours."

Staffordshire Police confirmed three suspects, two 17-year-old men, and an 18-year-old girl, all from the Stafford area, have been arrested on suspicion of administering a noxious substance.

It is not yet known what the gas was.

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