Sightseeing ended in tragedy after two hours, Westminster attack inquest told

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The widow of the first man to die in the Westminster terror attack has told how their whistlestop tour of Europe ended in tragedy after just two and half hours in London.

American Melissa Cochran and her husband Kurt had been sightseeing in the capital before Khalid Masood ploughed into them on Westminster Bridge.

Mr Cochran, 54,  pushed his wife out of the way moments before Masood deliberately drove at them, an Old Bailey inquest heard.

Westminster terror attack timings
(PA Graphics)

Giving evidence, Mrs Cochran told how she and her husband had been visiting London from the US as part of a tour of Europe.

On March 22 they had visited a number of tourist attractions, ending up at Westminster Abbey.

Kurt Cochran
Kurt Cochran pushed his wife out of the way moments before Masood deliberately drove at them, the inquest heard (Metropolitan Police/PA)

She said: “My next recollection, after I read some of the witness statements, I remember seeing the front of a car revving.

“I remember seeing the front of the vehicle. The next thing I remember, being on the ground.”

Mrs Cochran said she was badly injured and spent about a month in hospital afterwards.

Kurt and Melissa Cochran walk across Westminster Bridge
Kurt and Melissa Cochran walk across Westminster Bridge (Metropolitan Police/PA)

“We had one day in London so we were cramming everything in we could.

“We had two and a half hours in London before the attack.”

Gareth Patterson QC, for three of the victims, asked: “Kurt’s right arm went out.

“Do you remember when he reached across and then pushed you out of the way?”

Mrs Cochran said she had no memory of it, but added that it was typical of her husband.

In the space of 82 seconds Masood knocked down Mr Cochran, Leslie Rhodes, 75, Aysha Frade, 44, and Andreea Cristea, 31, before stabbing Pc Keith Palmer to death at the gates to the Palace of Westminster.

The Old Bailey has heard he was going on average 31mph on the bridge, targeting pedestrians on the pavement before crashing the Hyundai Tucson into railings.

The rampage ended when he was shot dead by a plainclothes officer who had rushed to the scene.

Investigators who trawled through thousands of hours of CCTV footage have concluded he acted alone, the inquest heard.

Eyewitness Kylie Smith, a teacher who was accompanying a group of teenage schoolchildren on a trip to London that day, said Masood had deliberately targeted Mr Cochran as he stood by a souvenir stand on the bridge.

“It was very clearly a deliberate act. The way he turned the car to change the direction,” she told the inquest.

“There was a couple walking hand in hand who I had previously been watching across the bridge, walking along having a nice time.

“The car came towards them. The man tried to pull his girlfriend behind him, tried to shield her from the impact.

“The man went over the car and just flew up in the air.

“It was chaos. It was just chaos. People trying to get out of the way but nobody really had a chance.”

She and her colleague got the children to run down the bridge steps, away from the scene, where she called 999.

“I was on the phone and the emergency services were already turning up, the response was phenomenal,” Miss Smith told the Old Bailey.

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