TWO brothers who suffered back and neck injuries when they were crushed by a shop sign that collapsed were comforted by an old school friend.
The men were outside the Greggs store, at the southern end of Commercial Road, near Portsmouth and Southsea railway station, when the bakery’s frontage fell onto them in high wind.
The pair, both believed to be in their 50s, suffered head and spinal injuries and were left ‘moaning’ in pain on the floor, with witnesses saying they were taken to hospital.
Allison James, manager of the Graze café next door, heard the collapse and rushed to help the pair who she knew from school.
The 52-year-old of Portsea said: ‘It was horrible. It’s left me really shaken. I knew both of the men – they’re brothers and I used to go to school with them.
‘But at first I didn’t realise who they were. I was upstairs at the time and I heard this really loud bang.
‘I went downstairs and saw these two lads on the floor moaning. Then when I recognised who it was it was awful.
‘The oldest brother was in really bad shape. He had neck, spine and back pain. He just wanted me to hold his hand. I was there for an hour.’
The incident took place shortly after 11am. Witnesses reported seeing two ambulances, police and a critical care unit.
Alan Cole, who was passing by the shop after the sign fell, saw the aftermath. He said: ‘When I got there two people were being treated on the ground and they were taken away in two ambulances.
‘One had a neck brace on and there were also doctors from the air ambulance and police there.’
Hampshire Constabulary and South Central Ambulance Service have been contacted for comment.
Greggs said customer safety was ‘of paramount important’ to the firm and that the bakers was ‘concerned for the welfare’ of the brothers.
A spokeswoman added: ‘We will work closely with all parties to understand the cause of this incident, but until more information is available we cannot comment further.
‘Our thoughts are with the two people involved and we wish them a speedy recovery.’
The incident came after strong gusts of up to 50mph were forecast for most of the UK, including Portsmouth.
A yellow-level weather warning has been issued by the Met Office, who have warned of travel disruption across the country today.
High winds have suspended hover travel from Southsea and the Hayling Island ferry service.