London Bridge attack inquest: Sara Zelenak ‘slipped’ before attack | - South Africa News

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Sara ZelenakImage copyright PA
Image caption Sara Zelenak was stabbed during the attacks at London Bridge and Borough Market

An Australian au pair was being helped up by a passer-by after slipping over in her high heels when they were both fatally stabbed, the inquest into the London Bridge attack has heard.

Sara Zelenak, 21, was on a night out with a friend when she was set upon by men armed with 12in (30cm) blades on the evening of 3 June 2017.

Briton James McMullan, 32, was also targeted as he tried to help Ms Zelenak to her feet, a witness said.

The inquest is in its second week.

Ms Zelenak and Mr McMullan were among eight people killed when Khuram Butt, Rachid Redouane and Youssef Zaghba drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge before jumping out and stabbing people.

Witness Erick Siguenza told the Old Bailey the driver stabbed her after she had jumped out of the way of the van crashing.

Gareth Patterson QC, representing the victims’ families, said Ms Zelenak had been wearing high heels and the ground was “quite wet” on the night of the attack.

When asked if Ms Zelenak had lost her balance, Mr Siguenza said: “Yes. She was completely on the ground. He [Mr McMullan] just grabbed her left arm and gently tried to pick her up.

“But by then the attackers were in close proximity and that’s when they started attacking.”

“There was no time for him to be able to help her up because the driver and the other terrorists were already running towards them,” he added.

Image copyright Police Handout
Image caption James McMullan was stabbed to death as he tried to help Ms Zelenak up, the inquest heard

The court heard Ms Zelenak and her friend, Priscila Goncalves, had left the London Grind bar minutes before the attack to continue their night out and “have fun”.

‘Everybody was running’

Ms Goncalves told the inquest they were crossing the bridge when they spotted another bar, with its red lights and tables outside.

They had started down the steps towards it when they heard the van crash.

The friends went back up the steps to see what had happened but became separated in the chaos as people ran away.

Image copyright Metropolitan Police
Image caption The court was shown CCTV of Ms Zelenak before she was killed

“I had no idea what was going on,” Ms Goncalves said.

“We were together. People said run. I started to run. I thought she was with me and then I looked, she was not,” she added.

  • Victims of the London Bridge attack
  • London Bridge attack: What happened

CCTV shown to the court showed Ms Goncalves among a crowd of people who were running away.

Mr Siguenza filmed people fleeing the scene as Ms Zelenak and Mr McMullan were attacked.

Image copyright PA
Image caption James McMullan’s parents Simon and Mila McMullan attended the inquest

Mr Siguenza said when the three attackers reached the area outside the bar below the bridge, people threw glasses and a chair at them.

The attackers realised they were outnumbered and fled, he said.

They continued their attack elsewhere. Eight people were killed and 48 injured. The three were later shot dead by armed police.

Gruelling evidence

BBC reporter Katie Wright, at the inquest

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Julie and Mark Wallace, Ms Zelenak’s mother and stepfather, also attended the inquest

Ms Zelenak’s mother and stepfather, Julie and Mark Wallace, watched from the courtroom as the details of her death were laid out.

Their expressions remained composed during a morning of gruelling evidence.

Ms Goncalves took to the stand, revealing how a night of fun suddenly turned to complete chaos – and how she and her friend became separated when everyone started to run.

She talked through her increasingly desperate attempts to contact her friend over the coming hours and days until she found out that Ms Zelenak had died.

The court was shown numerous photo angles of the area around where Ms Zelenak was killed – just along the road from where the attackers’ van had crashed.

The court also heard about the efforts of the first police officer to arrive on the scene to try to save her.

PC Clint Wallis had discovered Ms Zelenak on the ground.

He helped to perform CPR on her for about 10 minutes, but knew it was probably in vain.

Last week, Ms Zelenak’s mother told the inquest last week her daughter was “the happiest she had ever been” in the lead-up to the attack.

And Mr McMullan had been celebrating securing financial backing for his online education company on the night he was killed.

The inquests continue.

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