London Bridge victim ‘used skateboard to fight terrorist’
Ignacio Echeverria was one of eight people killed on June 3 2017.
A Spanish banker “didn’t even think” before using his skateboard to fight off a London Bridge terrorist who looked “like the devil”, an inquest has heard.
Ignacio Echeverria, 39, was knifed to death in an attack lasting less than five seconds as he stepped in to help protect Marie Bondeville, who was being repeatedly stabbed as she lay on the floor.
He was one of eight people killed after Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, launched a van and knife attack on June 3 2017.
Spaniard Mr Echeverria, who worked as a financial crime analyst at HSBC, had been skateboarding with friends before cycling past the attackers on a Santander bike.
CCTV footage played in court showed him swinging his skateboard at Redouane before the attacker lunged with his knife, sending him to the ground.
Zaghba is seen standing over Mr Echeverria, trying to stab him, as the victim uses his skateboard to parry the blows before Redouane’s 12in blade appears to connect with the left side of his torso.
His friend, Guillermo Sanchez-Montisi, said in a statement read at the Old Bailey: “It was like he didn’t even think about it, but reacted immediately.
“He was to the right side of that group, hitting the attackers with his skateboard.”
Mr Sanchez-Montisi said there was a woman, now known to be Marie Bondeville, on the floor being stabbed repeatedly.
“From the way they were attacking people it was clear that their intentions were to kill everyone,” he said.
“He wanted to kill her. The girl was screaming and it was terrifying.”
They were killing everyone, even the policemen. They were stabbing everyone everywhere they saw people Guillermo Sanchez-Montisi
The inquest has heard how Mr Echeverria got off his bike and joined unarmed Pc Wayne Marques and off-duty Pc Charlie Guenigault to help protect Ms Bondeville and Oliver Dowling, who was also injured in the attack.
Mr Sanchez-Montisi said: “One of the attackers was covering his head as Ignacio was hitting him with the skateboard.
“I could hear the sound of the skateboard hitting, then suddenly Ignacio was on the floor.”
He said his friend held his skateboard to protect himself before one of the attackers knifed him.
“I saw him stab Ignacio deeply into his side or the back as he was on the floor,” he said.
“I saw how the knife disappeared into my friend as he lay on the floor with his skateboard on top of him. This was the first time I saw the knife.”
Mr Sanchez-Montisi said he thought he would also be stabbed as one of the attackers “looked straight at me” as he came towards him, but managed to escape after throwing something in the way.
“When he was looking at me, his face, he looked like the devil,” he added.
“It was very painful to leave my friend but we were going to be next.”
Mr Sanchez-Montisi said the terror attack was the “craziest situation” he had ever seen.
“They were killing everyone, even the policemen. They were stabbing everyone everywhere they saw people,” he said.
“They looked prepared, professional and they were stood ready to attack. They knew what they were doing and they didn’t care.”
Xavier Thomas, 45, Christine Archibald, 30, Sara Zelenak, 21, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, Kirsty Boden, 28, and Alexandre Pigeard, 26, were also killed in the atrocity, which was brought to an end in less than 10 minutes when the attackers were shot.
The inquest heard Mr Echeverria has posthumously received a string of awards in the UK and Spain for his bravery, including the George Medal, which his parents Joaquin Echeverria Alonso and Maria Miralles De Imperial Hornedo collected from the Queen last year.
He is the first person ever to be awarded a high commendation by each of the Metropolitan Police, City of London Police and the British Transport Police forces.
The inquest continues.