An inquest into the London Bridge and Borough Market terrorist atrocity in London in 2017 has shone a light on the valiant efforts of Spain’s so-called “skateboard hero,” Ignacio Echeverría, to fend off the perpetrators with his skateboard and protect the victims of the attack.
Echeverría, 39, died after trying to defend a woman who was being stabbed by one of the three terrorists who drove a vehicle into pedestrians, then attacked passersby with knives on the night of June 3. Echeverría took on one of the terrorists using his skateboard as a weapon, and was stabbed to death.
If I had stayed, they would have also stabbed me
Guillermo Sánchez-Montisi, a friend of Echeverría
The Central Criminal Court, known as the Old Bailey, heard on Monday from several witnesses about Echeverría’s brave actions, which were captured by security cameras in the area.
“He didn’t even think about it,” Guillermo Sánchez-Montisi, a friend of Echeverría who was at the scene, told the court. “One of the attackers tried to cover his face as Ignacio hit him.”
Echeverría was riding his bicycle near London Bridge with Sánchez-Montisi and a third friend when the terrorists launched their attack. Hours earlier, the three had been practicing skateboarding in the South Bank neighborhood in London. According to Sánchez-Montisi, they first witnessed a man with a knife wound running away from London Bridge; then saw the man get stabbed in the neck and fall to the ground, when he tried protect two victims: Marie Bondeville and Oliver Dowling.
The court watched CCTV footage of the incident, which shows Echeverría jumping immediately from his bicycle and running to help. One of the terrorists, Rachid Redouane, is seen to lunge at Echeverría and he falls to the ground. Redouane and another terrorist, Youssef Zaghba, continue to assault him as he lies on the pavement.
“From the way they were attacking the pedestrians it was clear their intentions were to kill everybody,” Sánchez-Montisi told the court, adding the terrorists appeared “prepared” and “professional.”
When Sánchez-Montisi saw one of the terrorists coming for him, he threw something at the man and cycled away as fast as he could toward London Bridge. “Everyone was running. If I had stayed, they would have stabbed me too,” he said.
Echevarría had moved to London a year before the attack to be closer to his sister and nephew
Sánchez-Montisi said he continues to feel guilty about leaving his injured friend behind, adding he would not wish “that feeling” of futility “on his worst enemy.”
Echevarría had moved to London a year before the attack to be closer to his sister and nephew. He lived in the Poplar neighborhood in the London borough of Tower Hamlets.
The eight-week inquest began on May 7 and will examine the deaths of the eight people killed in the June 3 attack, which left another 48 injured.
English version by Melissa Kitson.