Eyewitness Gerard Vowls has described the terrifying moment he attempted to distract and fight off the London Bridge terrorists as they launched a brutal attack on a “blonde girl.”
Vowls, 47, who came across the disturbing scene while making his way home from a night out with friends, later identified the young woman as Australian nanny Sara Zelenak.
Sara, 21, was the second Australian to be confirmed killed by terrorists on Saturday.
“She was crying out "Help me! Help me!" and I tried so hard, screaming to get them to look at me,” Vowls told The Australian.
The construction worker, who is described by the publication as “slight of build,” says he managed to distract one of three attackers as he lifted a nearby bike in a vain attempt to fight off the armed men.
“I had no weapon but I saw a bike on the ground and tried to use that,” he said. “As I went to throw it, one of the attackers turned to me with his machete and started to chase me. I wanted all of them to chase me so they would leave her alone and so I ran down to the community garden (near Southwark Cathedral).’’
Despite his best efforts, he said the attacker soon stopped chasing him and returned to the others.
According to The Australian, Vowls is now haunted by the horrifying scenes he witnessed last Saturday night and has experienced trouble sleeping since the incident. He is also devastated that Sara was one of eight people to have lost their lives in the atrocity.
“Something is pulling on my heart, I am empty inside: what I saw was the worst thing in the world. I don’t know that I will ever get over it,’’ he said. “To Sara’s family, I just want to say I am so very sorry for their loss. I really tried to help her and get them to chase me. I am ripped apart knowing she died, it’s destroying me.’’
The Brisbane woman, who had lived and worked in the capital, was confirmed dead by her family earlier in the week.
“Sara Zelenak is confirmed dead, they found her body & has DNA tests confirmed. Thank-you for all the overwhelming love & support from everyone,” her mother Julie Wallace announced on Facebook.
Ms Wallace said her daughter had only just missed out on being involved in the other two terror attacks in the UK this year – the Manchester bombing and Westminster Bridge attack.
“The one with the policeman being stabbed three months ago, she was there the day before in the exact spot,” Ms Wallace said.
"The one with Ariana Grande's [concert], she was going to go to the concert [but didn't]."
"Everything she has just missed."
Nurse Kirsty Boden, 28, was also confirmed dead by her family.
Initially from the town of Loxton in the state of South Australia, she was running to help victims of the senseless attack when she was fatally injured.
It’s unclear whether she was killed when a trio of fanatics ploughed a white van into pedestrians on London Bridge or afterwards, when they stabbed people as part of their deadly terror-driven rampage.
Kirsty was a volunteer lifesaver at Tamarama Surf Club before moving to England, and the club is “deeply shaken” at the loss of the “fearless, compassionate, much-loved lifesaver”.
Seven people lost their lives during the horrific attacks and dozens more were injured.
Our thoughts are with the families at this tragic time.