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Westminster Bridge inquest: Partner tells of girlfriend search

Westminster Bridge inquest: Partner tells of girlfriend search

Andrei Burnaz had been planning to propose to Andreea Cristea on the day of the attack
The partner of a woman killed in the 2017 Westminster terror attack has told an inquest he searched frantically for her after she was hit by the car.Khalid Masood ran down and killed four people on Westminster Bridge before stabbing a police officer to death. Romanian Andreea Cristea was visiting London with her boyfriend when Masood's car knocked her into the Thames. She died from her injuries two weeks later. Andrei Burnaz said he ran all "over the bridge" looking for Ms Cristea.He told the inquest, sitting at the Old Bailey, that he called her mobile and it rang - which he thought was a positive sign - but then found both it and her glasses "in a pool of blood".
Those killed in the attack on 22 March last year were Kurt Cochran, 54, Leslie Rhodes, 75, Aysha Frade, 44, and Ms Cristea, 31.Masood was shot dead at the scene by armed police officers.
Westminster attack: What happened
Victims of the Westminster terror attack
Westminster inquest: Day three
Mr Burnaz wiped away tears as CCTV footage of their final moments together were shown to the court.Speaking on the fourth day of the inquest, he told the hearing it had been "very busy, very crowded on both sides of the bridge", adding: "We stopped a little bit to take some pictures."He said: "Very suddenly I heard some crashing and some noises in front of me. "After that, loud banging. I heard something hit something and after that at the same time people were screaming."
He said he saw the car coming towards them and "it was very quick.""The left part of the car was on the pavement and the right part was on the road," he added.The witness told the inquest he then felt a "burning sensation" on one leg."After the vehicle passed I looked on the left side of me to search for Andreea, but I couldn't see her," he continued."I started searching for Andreea. I started running over the bridge."Mr Burnaz said at one point he started running towards Masood's car to see if she had become stuck under it.He said: "I saw plenty police officers armed with machine guns. "I run and tried to explain to him what happened and tried to explain that I could not find my girlfriend. He only started yelling: 'Go back, go back, clear the area'."
Ms Cristea died from her injuries two weeks after the attack
He called Ms Cristea's sister to tell her what had happened, the court heard.He described going to the other side of the bridge where he told a female police officer that his partner was "in the water right now".The witness told the court he had considered jumping into the river to help his girlfriend but had been unable to see her when he looked over both sides of the bridge.When he explained the situation to another officer, who told colleagues over a police radio, he said: "That was the first time that somebody took action about this."Mr Burnaz said he was later taken to hospital to be treated himself and later still taken to see Ms Cristea in another hospital.
Ms Cristea took this photo on Westminster Bridge just before the attack
Witness Michael Brown had been driving his white van across the bridge when he saw Masood's Hyundai "hitting people as it drove along the pavement".He told the Old Bailey he saw Ms Cristea go "10ft in the air" before "she came down straight into the Thames".The witness described doing a "U-turn" and parking his van before looking into the river and calling 999 to raise the alarm. At first he could not spot Ms Cristea, but then saw her "floating in the Thames face down".Mr Brown said he then tried to assist others on the bridge. He described the scene as "carnage".When the barrister representing Ms Cristea's family thanked him for his efforts that day, Mr Brown began weeping. The witness also described "screaming just trying to get attention" of those on a boat below, which he did.Ms Cristea's family in Bucharest watched the proceedings via video link.
Clockwise from top left - PC Keith Palmer, Aysha Frade, Leslie Rhodes, Andreea Cristea and Kurt Cochran all lost their lives
On Wednesday, a 999 call was played to the court, in which a man was heard saying there was "a woman in the water drowning".The inquest is set to last about five weeks. A separate inquest into the death of Masood will be held once the hearing into his victims' deaths has concluded.The coroner is expected to examine Masood's background, police records, and look into the fact that he briefly featured in MI5 investigations in 2009 and 2010. The absence of armed officers at the scene will also be examined.
Westminster attack
London
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