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Westminster assaulted victims in Thames for five minutes before the rescue, investigation tells

One victim of the Westminster attack lay face-down in the Thames for five minutes while her desperate friend was desperately looking for her, as an investigation revealed.

Romanian Andreea Cristea, 31, had been on a sightseeing tour with her partner Andrei Burnaz when the tragedy hit Westminster Bridge on March 22 last year.

She had stopped taking a picture of the London Eye just before Khalid Masood drove in and she "flew" into the river.

She was unconscious in the water for two minutes before the skipper of a passing tourist boat held her with a long pole and thought her dead.

Andreea Cristea took a picture when she was hit by a car driven by Khalid Masood (Family Handball / Met Police / PA)

The court heard that he was not trying to lift her face out of the water or look for signs of life, but waited three minutes later for a fire to fish her out.

As soon as she was on board, "she coughed and spat" and began to breathe, heard the investigation.

Ms. Cristea was taken to the hospital but died two weeks later.

A lawyer from the interior designer's family asked if important minutes were lost as she plunged into the cold river water.

Mr Burnaz provided evidence in their investigation and described the screams and the "loud bump" as Masood cowered on the sidewalk.

He said, "It was very fast, everything was very fast, the same second I felt a burning sensation on my left foot and another bang, something that was probably Andreea."

Mr. Burnaz told the court investigation that he noticed the car had run over his foot, and his girlfriend, who had been 40cm away, was gone.

He searched the bridge and looked over the side, afraid that she had fallen into the river before turning to an armed policeman for help.

CCTV shows Andreea Cristea shortly before the attack over the bridge (Met Police / PA)

Mr. Burnaz said, "I ran and started explaining what had happened to him and I tried to explain that I could not find my girlfriend and he started yelling," Go back, go back, clean up the area. "

I returned to the point in the middle of the bridge and started looking for her again. I tried to call her. Her phone rang. I found her phone and her glasses full of blood.

"For a few minutes, because nobody did anything about it, I thought it might be better to jump into the river to look for it, but I did not."

After about 15 minutes, an officer took her information and informed colleagues about what had happened.

Meanwhile, Michael Brown had seen Cristea fly into the air and into the Thames.

He cried in court and said he was thinking of jumping after her, but he could not swim.

Instead, he called 999 and shouted on a tourist boat, saying someone was in the water.

Danny Cooper, who was at the helm of City Cruise Clippers, told the investigation that he initially thought there was "garbage" in the water.

Despite the desperate cries of Mr. Brown and a medical warning, he assumed it was a corpse.

Captain Gordon Markley even asked if it was a "wind-up" before holding her with a boat hook.

First Aid Training Mr. Cooper insisted that it would have been impossible to get her on board, adding, "We assumed it was a corpse that had been in the water for a long time pulling on a dead body just fall apart.

"It would not have been nice for anyone – there were kids sitting down there."

Gareth Patterson, QC, suggested that with the 15-foot pole, they could at least lift their face out of the water if they were not to be pulled up with the help of another man.

Instead, Markley fished a piece of paper out of the water and thought it had come out of her backpack, the yard heard.

But he insisted that there were "no signs of life," though he said at the investigation that he was beginning to doubt.

Mr. Patterson said, "Maybe in retrospect, you did things differently and at least tried to lift her face to see if she could start breathing?"

Mr. Markley replies, "In retrospect, yes, I would have liked to go into the water and have done that.

"We did what we thought fit."

He denied a "death gesture" at the firefighters launch, which heaved Mrs. Cristea out of the water in 30 seconds.

Thomas Wolfe, who was at the start of the fire, said she had a "short cough and a jet of water come out of her mouth" and began to breathe with a pulse.

Khalid Masood killed four people on Westminster Bridge before he stabbed Keith Palmer at the gates of Parliament (Met Police / PA).

The court heard the captains of the City Cruise Boat learn later that she died in the hospital.

Ms. Cristea's tearful family in Bucharest watched the trial by video link.

Patterson asked Dr. Samy Sadek, the head of the trauma team that treated Mrs. Cristea at the Royal London Hospital, asked if his patient might have survived if she had been taken out of the water and treated at an earlier stage.

"I'm really sorry, I have absolutely no way to know or answer that," he said.

During his rampage, Masood, 52, Kurt Cochran, 54, Leslie Rhodes, 75, Aysha Frade, 44, and Mrs. Cristea, killed on Westminster Bridge before stabbing Keith Palmer to death at the gates of the Palace of Westminster.



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