LONDON (AFP) - Andreea Cristea, who fell into the River Thames during the March 22 terror attack outside the British parliament, has died in hospital, police said Friday (April 7), bringing the toll to five.
Andreea Cristea, 31, was visiting London with her partner Andrei Burnaz, who intended to propose to her later that day, according to Romanian ambassador Dan Mihalache. She was knocked from Westminster Bridge as the attacker ploughed through pedestrians on March 22.
Life support for Cristea was withdrawn on Thursday, the police said.
“There are no words to even begin to describe the crushing pain and emptiness that is left in our hearts,” her family and partner said in a statement.
Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old convert to Islam known to the security services, drove at high speed into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before launching a frenzied knife attack on a policeman guarding the parliament building.
The rampage killed Leslie Rhodes, 75, a retired window cleaner; Aysha Frade, 44, a school administrator; Kurt Cochran, 54, an American tourist, and now Cristea.
Masood fatally stabbed 48-year-old policeman Keith Palmer outside the House of Commons before being shot dead himself by an armed officer in the forecourt.
‘Brutally ripped away’
“Our beloved and irreplaceable Andreea – wonderful daughter, sister, partner, dedicated friend and the most unique and life-loving person you can imagine – was cruelly and brutally ripped away from our lives in the most heartless and spiritless way,” Cristea’s family and partner said.
“She will always be remembered as our shining ray of light that will forever keep on shining in our hearts.
“Andreea is now unfortunately not able to have part of the money that was raised for her recovery, so we would like to donate it to charity. She would not have it any other way.”
London Mayor Sadiq Khan said he was deeply saddened by Cristea’s death. “Londoners hold her and her loved ones in our thoughts,” he said.
Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, England’s highest cleric, tweeted: “Let us pray hope and comfort for her family”.
Partner’s rose tribute
Footage of the attack, in which around 50 people were injured, showed Masood’s hire car speeding into pedestrians on Westminster Bridge and Cristea falling into the river below.
Witnesses reported seeing a body lying face-down in the Thames in the wake of the assault. After being taken from the water and rushed to hospital for treatment, Cristea underwent surgery for a blood clot on the brain.
Her partner had an operation on a broken foot but has since been discharged and attended a vigil on Westminster Bridge last week.
Burnaz was pushed in a wheelchair to the scene of the attack where he placed a single rose.
Britain’s Prince William, his wife Kate and his brother Prince Harry spoke with survivors and the families of those killed in the attack at a memorial service on Wednesday. The royals joined those affected by the assault for a “Service of Hope” at Westminster Abbey, just across Parliament Square from the scene of the attack.
Witnesses and emergency service workers involved in the response effort were among the 1,800 people who attended, along with the speakers of both houses of parliament.
All 12 people arrested in connection with the attack have been released and face no further police action.