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Skateboarding hero of London terrorist attacks sacrifices his life

IGNACIO ECHEVARRIA
Handout Photo | Sosdesaparecidos | AFP
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Ignacio Echeverria was one of several bystanders who rushed to help others when jihadists started attacking.

By all accounts, Ignacio Echeverria always stood up for the little guy. So when he saw someone getting attacked during last Saturday’s terrorist incident on London Bridge and Borough Market, Echeverria didn’t run the other way.

Instead, Echeverria, 39, used the one thing he had in his possession to help a woman who was being stabbed—his skateboard.

He paid for his actions with his life.  On Wednesday, after his family waited days for definite news about him, they learned that Echeverria was one of eight people killed when Islamist terrorists mowed people down with a van and then got out to slash people on the street with knives.

Echeverria’s family told the BBC that the Madrid native was returning from an evening of skateboarding in a nearby park with friends as the three London Bridge attackers went on their rampage. “He jumped off his bike and used his skateboard to hit one of the attackers who was stabbing a woman,” the BBC reported. “The two others then attacked him from behind and he was last seen lying on the ground, the family said.”

But Echevveria was not the only hero that night. There was also Roy Larner, who was stabbed five times while attempting to shield people from the attackers. According to a friend, Larner was left with stab wounds on his face and neck and suffered a collapsed lung, the BBC reported.

Geoff Ho, business editor with the Sunday Express, thought he’d had enough excitement for one night when he learned that an attack was underway. He had just finished helping a bouncer at the Southwark Tavern who was being attacked by two unarmed men.

“At that point I thought ‘job done, now for beer and food,'” Ho said. “Within two minutes of my leaving the Southwark Tavern, … the terrorist attackers arrived at the restaurant. Most of my friends and the staff hid under tables but one of my friends was frozen behind me.”

Ho said he “tried to slow” the attackers, who appeared to be wearing suicide vests. “I think I got a hit in on one of them, but either he or his accomplice got me with a shot to the throat, he said. “They got my friend who was behind me with a minor stab wound in the face and hands and ran off. I picked up my friend and bundled him into the store room. I called the police and within moments they arrived.”

In addition, a baker named Florin Morariu jumped into action when someone came into the Bread Ahead bakery and told him that three men were stabbing people outside. Morariu, a native of Romania, headed outside with two crates.

“I felt pity for the victims, I didn’t know how to handle things or react, I thought to myself I’m also in danger,” he said. “I just threw the crate” at one of the attackers.

When the jihadist dodged it, Morariu simply hit him in the head with the other crate.

A policeman then ordered him to step back, before discharging a stun grenade.

Echeverria worked for HSBC’s anti-money laundering team in London, and a friend called him an “indefatigable worker who “did not hesitate to confront the bosses if he wasn’t happy with something,” according to the BBC. “He helped those who were marginalized.”

Spain’s Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy, took note of the reports of Echeverria’s “heroic and exemplary act,” and the foreign ministry in Madrid said he was a model of solidarity for everyone. “His bravery in standing up for a defenseless person is a reminder of the need to remain united in the face of the scourge of terrorism,” the ministry said.

The Catholic Herald, published out of London, reported on Echeverria’s faith life, as attested to by friends and relatives.

His brother Joaquin told the Spanish El Mundo newspaper that he never missed a Sunday Mass. A friend told another paper that he had belonged to a group of young Catholics who had met weekly in Madrid and that he always stood up for the weakest. “When we were young, if he saw that someone was picking on a child in a bar, he came out in his defense,” the friend said.

The Herald also detailed the life of one of the attack’s victims, who also lived a life of service before it was cut short at age 30. Christine Archibald, from Castlegar, British Columbia, was a volunteer in a homeless shelter before moving to England. On Saturday, she walking in front of her fiancé when she was struck by the van.

Her family, in a statement called Archibald a person who “had room in her heart for everyone and believed strongly that every person was to be valued and respected.”

“She lived this belief working in a shelter for the homeless until she moved to Europe to be with her fiancé,” the statement said. “She would have had no understanding of the callous cruelty that caused her death. Please honor her by making your community a better place. Volunteer your time and labor or donate to a homeless shelter. Tell them Chrissy sent you.”

 

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