London Bridge inquest: Man pulled from Thames three days after terror attack ‘died in seconds’
PUBLISHED: 17:00 30 May 2019
A man whose body was recovered from the Thames near Limehouse three days after the London Bridge terror attack died within “seconds rather than minutes” of being injured, an inquest has heard.
Xavier Thomas, from France, was hit by a hired van driven by terrorists as he walked across London Bridge with his partner Christine Delcros, who was seriously injured in the attack in 2017.
Pathologist Brett Lockyer said it was likely that Mr Thomas quickly lost consciousness and did not suffer before his death.
Mr Thomas, a father-of-two, had suffered deep bruising to the front of the face.
Dr Lockyer told the inquest: "I believe his death to be very rapid as he entered the water, especially as there are no signs to say that he inhaled a lot of water. There was very little water in his stomach."
The court heard that changes to the body after death could result in some injuries being lost by the time of a post-mortem examination.
Dr Lockyer said: "It is likely when people enter the water, especially from a height, that they could strike any manner of objects on the way down - that includes the furniture of the bridge itself and any object on the riverbed."
Eight people were killed and 48 injured when Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, launched a van and knife attack on June 3 2017.
The victims were Mr Thomas, 45, Christine Archibald, 30, Sara Zelenak, 21, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, Kirsty Boden, 28, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39.
Dr Lockyer could not confirm if Mr Thomas went head first into the water.
He accepted that injuries to Mr Thomas's left arm, including a large area of bruising, could have been caused by the wing mirror on the van.
Immersion expert Paul Savage previously gave evidence suggesting a range of possible scenarios, including that the impact of hitting his head on the water may have stopped Mr Thomas's breathing or that his heart stopped.
The court was told that more study is needed in this field of research.
Mr Echeverria, 39, who lived in Poplar, would have died quickly after being stabbed in the back while trying to use his skateboard to fight off the terrorists, the inquest heard.
The fatal blow penetrated 12.5cm into his body and cut through muscle. There was damage to two arteries coming from the heart, and his ribs were fractured.
Dr Lockyer said the force needed to cause his chest and back injuries would have been "at least severe".
Mr Echeverria would have lost consciousness quickly and would not have endured an extended period of suffering, according to Dr Lockyer.
The Spaniard had been in the UK for more than a year at the time of his death and was working as a financial crime analyst at HSBC in Canary Wharf.
The inquest has previously heard that he joined unarmed Pc Wayne Marques and off-duty Pc Charlie Guenigault in fighting off the Nurse Kirsty Boden, 28, who lived in Hampstead, suffered a blow which perforated part of her left lung as she tried to save other people, the court heard.
The Australian's injuries included stab wounds to her chest, arm and head.
A fragment of a blade was found in a head wound but the fatal injury was the blow to the chest which affected her heart and lung.
She suffered a collapsed lung and blood loss caused her to go into shock before she died.
Pathologist Simon Poole said her fatal injury would have led to a rapid death and she would not have been saved if she had got treatment earlier.
The inquest has previously heard she was on a night out with friends at Boro Bistro when she heard the sound of the van crashing and her immediate response was to leave the table to help.
The inquest continues.
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