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London Bridge terror attack victims’ devastating injuries revealed

Christine Archibald and Sara Zelenak were among eight people killed in the atrocity in June 2017.

Christine Archibald died after being struck the terrorists’ van (Met Police/PA)
Christine Archibald died after being struck the terrorists’ van (Met Police/PA)

The devastating injuries which killed two of the victims of the London Bridge terror attacks were laid bare at their inquest.

The deaths of Christine Archibald and Sara Zelenak would have been “near instantaneous”, according to Home Office pathologist Dr Ashley Fegan-Earl.

Ms Archibald received several injuries after being struck by the attacker’s van on London Bridge while Ms Zelenak was repeatedly stabbed. She suffered a fatal blow to the neck that severed her spinal cord.

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Sara Zelenak, 21, suffered a number of stab wounds (Met Police/PA)

Eight people were killed and 48 others injured after Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, launched a van and knife attack on June 3 2017.

Ms Archibald, 30, Ms Zelenak, 21, Xavier Thomas, 45, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, Kirsty Boden, 28, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39, were all killed in the attack, which lasted less than 10 minutes.

Ms Archibald suffered a range of injuries including fractures to her jaw and skull, broken ribs, major shearing forces to her spine and two critical tears to her aorta.

There was also bruising and grazing across her body.

Dr Ashley Fegan-Earl told the central London inquest that Ms Archibald would not have suffered and that “there would have been no medical treatment that could have saved her life”.

He said: “If a full operating theatre was present, she could not have been saved given the extent of these injuries.”

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The inquest was told Ms Zelenak fell over in her high heels (Met Police/PA)

The court has heard that the van was travelling at 34mph when it struck Ms Archibald.

Dr Fegan-Earl described the energy transfer when a vehicle strikes a body as “immense”, adding that “a vehicle can produce multiple injuries as it is demonstrated here”.

Ms Zelenak’s injuries included a severed rib and spinal cord plus a fractured jaw. She was stabbed just below her left ear, with the knife severing her vertebra and spinal cord.

This would have had an impact on “all the basic structures of life” which are controlled in this area, the court heard.

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Eight people were killed by the attackers (Met Police/PA)

Dr Ashley Fegan-Earl told the central London inquest that was “without doubt the fatal injury”, and added that he would have expected Ms Zelenak to die “extremely rapidly”.

Stab wounds to the chest, slashes to her legs plus a knife wound right through her thigh were among her other injuries.

The court has previously heard that Ms Zelenak had been running away from her attackers when she stumbled and turned her foot.

Dr Ashley Fegan-Earl said Ms Zelenak, who was wearing a pair of strappy high-heeled shoes, had an ankle injury and that she may have turned her ankle and fell on her right hand side.

He added there were no defence wounds to her hands and arms.

An expert on deaths said that Mr Thomas would have died quickly.

The French father-of-two was thrown into the River Thames where his body was recovered downstream three days later.

He was hit by a hired van being driven by terrorists as he walked across London Bridge with his partner of two years Christine Delcros, who was struck and seriously injured in the attack.

Immersion expert Paul Savage gave a range of possible scenarios surrounding Mr Thomas’s death including that the impact of hitting his head on the water may have stopped his breathing or that his heart stopped.

The court was told that more study is needed in this field of research.

Mr Savage directed his final comments towards Mr Thomas’s family who were sitting quietly in court and listening through a translator.

He said: “I would like to say that it is my absolute strong belief that Mr Thomas entered the water and almost immediately died with no suffering.”

The hearing was adjourned to Tuesday at 10am.

PA

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