Ignacio Echeverria, 39, was knifed to death while trying to protect Marie Bondeville, who was being repeatedly stabbed as she lay on the floor during the London Bridge terror attack in 2017
A Spanish banker who was killed in the London Bridge attack ‘didn’t even think’ before using his skateboard to fight off a terrorist who was trying to stab a woman to death, an inquest has heard.
Hero 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.
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 Zaghba’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.
The financial crime analyst at HSBC used his skateboard to hit Rachid Redouane over the head. Pictured: Mr Echeverria skateboarding
Mr Echeverria was trying to protect Marie Bondeville, pictured with her boyfriend Oliver Dowling, who were caught up in the attack
‘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.’
Ms Bondeville was taken to hospital with 18 stab wounds and put into an induced coma.
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.
He was awarded a posthumous George Medal for bravery by the Queen as well as a High Commendation by the Met, British Transport Police and City of London Police.
Mr Echeverria was also awarded two Grand Cross medals, a Silver Medal and a Medal of Honour by the monarchy and police in Spain.
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.
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. Pictured: the van they used
CCTV footage played in court showed him swinging his skateboard at Redouane before the attacker lunged with his knife, sending him to the ground. Pictured: one of the 12-inch blades used by the terrorists
Pictured: terrorists Khuram Shazad Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba
‘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 continues.
Who were the victims of the London Bridge terror attack?
(Top, from left) Christine Archibald, James McMullan, Alexandre Pigeard, Sebastien Belanger, (bottom, from left) Kirsty Boden, Sara Zelenak, Xavier Thomas and Ignacio Echeverria
Spaniard Ignacio Echeverria was stabbed to death as he tried to fight off the terrorist attackers with his skateboard.
The 39-year-old had been in the UK for over a year was working as a financial crime analyst at HSBC.
Mr Echeverria joined unarmed police constables Wayne Marques and Charlie Guenigault in fighting off the three attackers as they set upon Marie Bondeville, hitting at least one terrorist with his skateboard.
‘His courageous efforts were to seek to stop the attack,’ Chief Coroner Mark Lucraft said.
Mr Echeverria was the youngest of five siblings and was a Catholic who went to mass every week. He could speak English, German and French fluently.
Nurse Kirsty Boden was fatally stabbed as she tried to tend to the wounded and the dying.
Miss Boden, 28, moved to London in 2013 from the small town of Loxton, in South Australia.
She was a senior staff nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital and lived with her British boyfriend James Hodder in a flat in Hampstead.
Mr Hodder said: ‘She loved people and loved her life helping others. To Kirsty, her actions that night would have been an extension of how she lived her life.’
Alexandre Pigeard was working as a waiter at Boro Bistro when he was attacked.
The 26-year-old Frenchman had moved to London to further his ambitions as a dance music DJ.
Minutes before he was fatally stabbed, he video-called his father Philippe during a break from work at the French restaurant.
Mr Pigeard had planned to return to France in the autumn of 2017 to help open a restaurant in Nantes and to record an EP with his musician father.
Mr Pigeard senior told the inquest: ‘I’m present here as a devastated father who has lost a child in such circumstances – an inconsolable father.’
James McMullan was stabbed in the chest near the Barrowboy and Banker pub while he was celebrating getting financial backing for his online education company.
The British-Filipino entrepreneur was watching the Champions League final with friends in the pub.
The 32-year-old, from Hackney in East London, was attacked when he stepped outside to have a cigarette.
He had dreamed of helping children without access to education through his e-learning company.
Mr McMullan’s father Simon described his son as ‘funny, charming and clever’ and said ‘his fearlessness could never be underestimated’.
The mother of chef Sebastien Belanger said she does not forgive the terrorists who ‘mutilated and killed him’.
Her 36-year-old son was drinking at the Boro Bistro when he was stabbed repeatedly in the chest.
His mother Josiane Belanger said: ‘We miss him so much, his smile, his joie de vivre. I do not forgive what they did to him.’
Originally from Angers in western France, Mr Belanger started work at the Coq d’Argent in the City and was promoted to the role of head chef.
Australian au pair Sara Zelenak was on the ‘trip of a lifetime’ when she was stabbed to death while on a night out with a friend.
Miss Zelenak’s mother Julie Wallace said ‘every sliding door’ put her daughter in ‘harm’s way’.
‘She was meant to be working and at the last minute she got the night off,’ Mrs Wallace said.
‘At 10pm Sara’s phone rang and her friend said ‘I’ve finished at the rugby’ and so she left her safe haven and walked out into a terrorist attack and was stabbed to death.’
Before leaving for UK in March 2017, Miss Zelenak worked with her stepfather Mark as a crane truck operator in Brisbane to save up for her trip.
Her parents have since set up Sarz Sanctuary to help other families to cope with grief.
Xavier Thomas was walking over London Bridge with his girlfriend Christine Delcros when they were hit by the van.
The 45-year-old father-of-two was catapulted into the Thames and his girlfriend suffered life-changing injuries. His body was recovered downstream three days later.
Mr Thomas, who had arrived in London on the day of the attack, lived near Paris and worked for American Express.
Miss Delcros said: ‘Since Xavier disappeared in such tragic and traumatic circumstances our whole world has fallen apart.’
Canadian tourist Christine Archibald told her fiance Tyler Ferguson she loved him seconds before she was mowed down.
Miss Archibald and Mr Ferguson were walking across London Bridge after dinning at a nearby restaurant when the atrocity unfolded.
Her fiancé said: ‘At one point Chrissy stopped me out of nowhere, grabbed me close and gave me a passionate kiss after telling me she loved me.
‘I remember it being a warm summer’s evening and the sun had just gone down.. And then the attack took place and Chrissy was killed.
‘No words can express how I felt when this happened. I was absolutely devastated and inconsolable. Nothing has ever been the same since.’
Miss Archibald’s engagement ring was lost during the attack, but later recovered from the bridge. Mr Ferguson now wears it on a chain around his neck.