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Westminster terror attack victim’s injuries ‘unsurvivable’

Kurt Cochran was among the Westminster terror attack victims (Metropolitan Police/PA) Photo: PA Wire/PA Images

Paramedics could not have saved the first victim of the Westminster terror attack after he suffered “unsurvivable” head injuries, an inquest has heard.

American tourist Kurt Cochran was hit by Khalid Masood’s hire car on Westminster Bridge and toppled head first over the balustrade and onto the pavement below.

He suffered multiple bruises, fractures and brain injuries and his “survival period would have been brief”, pathologist Dr Simon Poole said.

A lawyer for Mr Cochran’s sister had questioned why medics had not done chest compressions after he flatlined at the scene.

Mr Cochran pushed his wife Melissa out of the way Credit: PA

Gareth Patterson QC said: “We heard ordinarily chest compressions would be carried out. Because the paramedic was treating the incident as a major incident no chest compressions were conducted.

“If that had been done, might that have made a difference?”

Dr Poole replied: “I don’t think so.” He added that the severity of the head wound and fractures to the skull were “unsurvivable”.

Mr Cochran, 54, and his wife Melissa had been sightseeing in the capital before tragedy struck on March 22 last year.

He pushed his wife out of the way moments before Masood deliberately drove at them, the Old Bailey inquest has heard.

Masood killed Mr Cochran, Leslie Rhodes, 75, Aysha Frade, 44, and Andreea Cristea, 31, on Westminster Bridge before stabbing Pc Keith Palmer to death at the gates to the Palace of Westminster.

Mr Rhodes’ injuries were unsurvivable, the inquest heard Credit: Met Police/PA

The inquest heard Mr Rhodes suffered a “devastating” head injury when he was struck by Masood’s rented car before being thrown on to the road.

He was taken to King’s College Hospital for treatment but died around 24 hours later.

Consultant Pathologist Dr Ashley Fegan-Earl said: “The injury was devastating, unsurvivable and, in my opinion, it would have rendered him deeply unconscious straight away.

“There was no issue with the medical treatment he received and the formal cause of death was given as head injury.”

Aysha Frade would have died almost instantaneously, the inquest heard Credit: Met Police/PA

Questions have been raised over whether it would have been possible to transport Mr Rhodes to hospital more quickly by air ambulance.

But asked if Mr Rhodes could or would have survived had he received earlier medical intervention, the pathologist said: “In my opinion, no.”

Dr Fegan-Earl said Ms Frade’s “death would have been near-instantaneous and in my opinion without suffering” when she was struck from behind, thrown into the air and under the wheels of a double-decker bus.

He said she suffered a “devastating, unsurvivable head injury” as well as “devastating internal injuries” and fractures to her lower limbs.

She would have been rendered unconscious immediately on the initial impact with Masood’s car, which may have been fatal in itself, he added.

Ms Frade’s official cause of death was given as head and chest injuries.

Andreea Cristea, 31, fell 41ft into the Thames, the inquest heard Credit: PA

Ms Cristea toppled over the balustrade into the Thames after being hit by the Hyundai.

The Romanian interior designer was pulled out after five minutes spent lying unconscious and face down in the water. She died in hospital two weeks later.

Dr Fegan-Earl said she had suffered a skull fracture from “high levels of force”, caused by impact with the car, and not the 41ft fall.

He added it was “highly likely” the injuries would have been fatal, irrespective of being in the water.

Cause of death was given as multiple organ failure due to head injury and immersion.

Jonathan Hough QC, for the coroner, queried whether Ms Cristea might have lived if her head had been lifted out of the water sooner.

The pathologist said: “I suspect not.”