COMPUTER programmer Nick Cowen woke up to find a policewoman telling him marina residents had to be evacuated.
The 32-year-old and his colleagues, Andy Hodgetts, 33, and Chris Simpson, 31, had been up all night working on a new computer game which they must have finished in two days.
They went to bed at 9am yesterday, but were woken up when police rushed into Andy’s flat at Hartlepool Marina, where he has lived for the past 10 years.
Nick, who is from Middlesbrough, but has been staying at the flat to get the game finished, slept in the flat hallway as it is only two-bedroomed.
He said: “I just woke up to see a policewoman’s face above me.
“They had to come into the flat to make sure everyone was out.
“They were remaining very tight-lipped, only saying ‘it’s for your own safety’.”
The friends had to leave all their belongings behind and sought refuge at the Jackson Wharf pub, also at the marina.
Andy, who lives on the third floor of the flats at Navigation Point, said: “We heard the man who died lives above V Bar, in the same building, but there is a corridor between us.
“You barely see anyone where I live, it’s a place where everyone keeps themselves to themselves.”
Chris, from Middlesbrough, said: “It’s a bit close to home. You never really consider that this stuff happens where you live.”
Alan Hay was out walking his dog in Old Cemetery Road when he came across the police cordon.
Alan, 67, of Baptist Street on the Headland, said: “I’ve never seen so many police and fire engines and ambulances.
“There were two big fire engines, two ambulances, four paramedic cars and lots of police cars.
“They were around the area from the old Barnshaws Bending Centre to the cemetery wall.
“We couldn’t get past.
“I phoned my friend who lives towards the Central Estate and he said they all heard a big bang last night.”
Another witness, who lives on the Headland and did not wish to be named, said: “One of my daughter’s friends who lives on the Central said they heard a big bang last night.
“Apparently the houses shook.
“I saw a police car on the bank, an ambulance on Spion Kop and the walkway near Hartlepool Rovers Rugby Ground was all taped off.”