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London Bridge victim fell in heels and passerby went to help when attackers stabbed them

Sara Zelenak was the youngest victim of the London Bridge attack. Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

The youngest victim of the London Bridge attack was being helped by a passerby after she fell over in her high heels when they were both fatally stabbed, an inquest has heard.

Australian au-pair Sara Zelenak, 21, appeared to lose her balance just as the terrorists crashed their hire van into railings on the bridge and got out armed with 12 inch ceramic knives.

Briton James McMullan, 32, rushed to help her but they were both set upon by the assailants, the Old Bailey was told.

A CCTV image shows Ms Zelenak before she was stabbed. Credit: PA/Metropolitan Police

Ms Zelenak suffered deep gashes to her neck and Mr McMullan was stabbed once in the chest.

Police officers found Ms Zelenak critically injured still clutching her mobile phone, which flashed with messages, and immediately started CPR.

However, the court heard there were only three paramedics around as the scene was made safe, and one of them decided she could not be saved.

Erick Siguenza filmed terrified people screaming and running away as Ms Zelenak and Mr McMullan were attacked.

He told the court: “As soon as the van crashed they [the terrorists] stepped out and the driver stabbed the woman that had jumped out 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.”

James McMullan was fatally stabbed as he went to the assistance of Ms Zelenak Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

Gareth Patterson QC, representing the victims’ families, said the ground was "quite wet" on the night of the attack and Ms Zelenak had been wearing high heels.

When asked if she had lost her balance, Mr Siguenza said: “Yes. She was completely on the ground.

"He [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.”

Ms Zelenak, wearing a white top, walks with her friend on the night she died. Credit: Metropolitan Police/PA

The inquest heard how Ms Zelenak had been out for a drink with her friend Priscila Goncalves on the evening of June 3, 2017.

CCTV footage showed Ms Zelenak in blue jeans, white shirt, leather jacket and black lace-up high heel shoes.

Giving evidence, Ms Goncalves told how they were heading to a bar by London Bridge when they heard a “crash”.

She told the court: “When we were going down the stairs and then I heard something and then we went up the stairs to see what happened and people started saying ‘run’ and that’s what we did.

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“It sounded like a crash to me.

"It sounded like it was something big which is why we went back to take a look.

“I thought I had seen the van but now I don’t think I had actually.

"I was just very confused.”

She said: “I had no idea what was going on.

"We were together. People said 'run'. I started to run.

"I thought she was with me and then I looked, she was not.

"Everybody was running."

Ms Golcalves tried to contact her friend on Facebook after she took refuge in a hotel but she was unable to get a response.

The eight victims of the London Bridge attack. Credit: PA

Ms Zelenak and Mr McMullan were among eight people killed when Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, launched their van and knife rampage on London Bridge and in Borough Market.

Xavier Thomas, 45, Christine Archibald, 30, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39, also died in the atrocity before the attackers were shot dead by armed police.