Aussie victim lay bleeding as phone rang

 

An Australian victim of the London Bridge terror attack clutched her flashing phone to her chest as she lay on the ground with severe stab wounds to her neck, a police officer has revealed.

Sara Zelenak's loved ones desperately tried to contact her after she vanished in the stampede when a panicked crowd fled from the killers.

The Brisbane au pair lost her balance and fell to the ground as people ran for their lives from terrorists on a stabbing spree.

An inquest into the June 3, 2017 attack was told Ms Zelenak was walking down some steps with friend Priscila Goncalves after they left a bar adjacent to London Bridge when they heard the sound of a crash. tthey both turned back to investigate, but fled when people starting screaming and shouting "run".

The 21-year-old was wearing high heels and it had been raining heavily. A witness told the Old Bailey in London he believed she lost her footing as the terrorists closed in on her and stabbed her where she had fallen.

Police Constable Clint Wallis said Ms Zelenak was holding her phone to her chest as she lay on the ground with multiple severe knife wounds to the left side of her neck. He told the inquest the phone was flashing constantly as people tried frantically to get in touch with her.

He turned Ms Zelenak's body over and checked her for other injuries. "She had lost a lot of blood."

Two people were killed when they were run over by the van on London Bridge and six - including South Australian nurse Kirsty Boden - died from stab wounds at nearby Borough Market. Dozens of others were injured.

The other victims were Christine Archibald, 30, Xavier Thomas, 45, who both died on the bridge, and Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sebastian Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39.

Their attackers, Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30 and Youssef Zaghba, 22, were gunned down by police about 10 minutes after the incident began.

Australian au pair Sara Zelenak was walking down some stairs with a friend after heavy rain when they heard a crash and started running.
Australian au pair Sara Zelenak was walking down some stairs with a friend after heavy rain when they heard a crash and started running.


It was dark, so he asked a member of the public to shine his mobile phone torch on Ms Zelenak so she could carry out first aid. He and a colleague tried for 10 minutes to keep her alive, but they stopped CPR after she showed no signs of life.

PC Wallis told the inquest that paramedics at the scene told him they needed more resources to help the victims. One of the questions they grappled with at the time they worked on Ms Zelenak was whether other injured victims could be saved.

"The paramedic said there were limited resources and 'marked her as dead'," PC Wallis told the court.

 

 

Witness Erick Siguenza told of watching the attack on Ms Zelenak. Picture: South West News Service
Witness Erick Siguenza told of watching the attack on Ms Zelenak. Picture: South West News Service

 

Priscilla Concalves was with Ms Zelenak just before she was killed. Picture: South West News Service
Priscilla Concalves was with Ms Zelenak just before she was killed. Picture: South West News Service

The court heard the paramedic made that decision within 30 seconds of arriving at the scene. They then put a black triage tag on her body that said "dead" in white writing.

Another officer, Richard Norton, said it was dark so he couldn't initially see how badly injured the Australian was.

"I could see that there was copious amounts of blood on the floor, I could see she had multiple stab wounds ... to her neck," PC Norton said.

While they were attending to Ms Zelenak, he asked members of the public to watch for the attackers.

"Whilst we were attending to Sara we were very conscious that our backs were to the very steps that the attackers had run down."

ATTACKERS 'KNEW WHAT THEY WERE DOING'

Witness Erick Siguenza told of the shocking moment he saw the fatal attack take place.

He saw Ms Zelenak on the ground and a man, most likely James McMullan, trying to help her up - the attackers stabbed her on her left side and carried on as she lay on the ground.

Mr Siguenza said the trio emerged from the van with 30cm knives tied to their wrists "a second or two" after it crashed.

He told the court Ms Zelenak was "completely on the ground" when she was stabbed by the attackers who "knew what they were doing".

A witness told the inquest he saw the 21-year-old, right, on the ground trying to get up as she was attacked.
A witness told the inquest he saw the 21-year-old, right, on the ground trying to get up as she was attacked.

Ms Zelenak's stabbed body was found near the top of the steps. She was lying on the ground "but there as no time to help her up, by that time the driver and the other terrorists were running towards them ... there was nothing he could do."

The noise Ms Zelenak and Ms Goncalves heard was the van that was deliberately crashed after it had mowed down pedestrians on London Bridge.

Ms Zelenak was two steps ahead of Ms Gonzalez when they heard people shouting and panicking.

"We heard someone shout 'run' and we started running and when I looked again she was not with me anymore," Ms Goncalves told the court.

In the panic and confusion she thought Ms Zelenak was beside her. "I thought she was with me, but when I looked she was not," said her friend.

Ms Goncalves said she saw a man on top of another man and assumed an attack was taking place, but didn't initially believe it was terror related.

"I just thought that maybe gangs, I knew it was dangerous," she said. "I looked behind and I saw men on top of another man and then I thought maybe someone is attacking someone but I didn't know it was a terrorist attack...I didn't see any gun or knife."

She tried frantically to get in touch with Ms Zelenak, but the young woman did not answer texts or phone calls.

"I thought maybe she had lost her phone so I continued to send messages on Facebook as well and called her, but she never picked up," she said.

Ms Goncalves hoped she had simply lost her phone, but learned later from another friend that she hadn't returned home.

"I hoped she was hiding somewhere," she said.

The inquest is into its second of 10 scheduled weeks. It is hearing evidence about the response to the attack, as well as possible intelligence failures.

 

andrew.koubaridis@news.com.au


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