London - An au pair having an unexpected night off was stabbed to death by the London Bridge terrorists, the Old Bailey heard on Monday.
Sara Zelenak, 21, tried to escape the three knife-wielding fanatics but slipped on the wet pavement while wearing high heels.
She was stabbed in the neck and James McMullan, a passer-by who came to her aid, suffered a fatal wound to the chest.
Miss Zelenak was on a night out with her friend Priscila Goncalves when the terrorists launched their vehicle attack.
Miss Goncalves told the inquest she did not realise her Australian friend had fallen. ‘People said run,’ she recalled. ‘I started to run. I thought she was with me and then I looked, she was not.
‘Everybody was running. I thought maybe it was gangs. I knew it was dangerous. When Sara was not next to me any more I looked behind and saw a man on top of another man. I didn’t know it was a terrorist.’
Miss Goncalves later took refuge in a hotel and repeatedly tried to contact her friend, unaware that she was dead.
A policeman who administered first aid to Miss Zelenak – the youngest of the eight victims of the attack – said her mobile phone was repeatedly flashing with calls from Miss Goncalves.
Miss Zelenak was supposed to be working, but had been given the night off – June 3, 2017 – at the last minute by the family who employed her.
Erick Siguenza, who witnessed and filmed the horrific attack, told the court: ‘As soon as the van crashed they stepped out and the driver stabbed the woman that had jumped to get out of the way of the van crashing.
‘That’s when they started stabbing her. I believe there was a gentleman trying to help her get up and he was stabbed as well.
‘As I was recording there was a lot of screaming and just people realising what was going on and just shouting in general.’
Gareth Patterson, who represents Miss Zelenak’s family, said: ‘She had high heels on and there was rain on the ground which may have made her less stable than she otherwise would have been.’
The QC asked Mr Siguenza whether Miss Zelenak lost her balance.
Mr Siguenza replied: ‘Yes. She was completely on the ground. 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.’
Miss Zelenak’s mother and stepfather, Julie and Mark Wallace, travelled from Australia and have been in court every day since the hearing opened last week.
Mrs Wallace said her daughter was the ‘happiest she had ever been’ and was looking forward to meeting them in France later that month for a holiday.
She had narrowly missed two previous terrorist attacks. The au pair had a ticket to the Ariana Grande concert that was bombed in Manchester but did not go, and had been sightseeing on Westminster Bridge the day before that vehicle attack. The court was shown CCTV footage of Miss Zelenak and Miss Goncalves walking toward a bar by Southwark Cathedral.
Khuram Butt, 27, Youssef Zaghba, 22, and Rachid Redouane, 30, launched their attack shortly after 10pm on a Saturday night.
Before being shot dead by police they murdered Christine Archibald, 30, and Xavier Thomas, 45, with the van, and fatally stabbed Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sebastien Belanger, 36, Kirsty Boden, 28, James McMullan, 32, Ignacio Echeverria, 39, as well as Miss Zelenak. Another 48 people were injured.