Fifth Westminster attack victim dies from fall into Thames

By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author   |   April 7, 2017 at 8:25 AM
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April 7 (UPI) -- Andreea Cristea, a 31-year-old woman from Romania, died, becoming the fifth victim of Khalid Masood's Westminster attack in London.

On the day of the attack, Cristea was in London on vacation with her boyfriend Andrei Burnaz to celebrate his birthday. She fell off the Westminster Bridge into the River Thames as a result of the March 22 attack.

"After fighting for her life for over two weeks, 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 Burnaz said in a shared statement. "She will always be remembered as our shining ray of light that will forever keep on shining in our hearts. There are no words to even begin to describe the crushing pain and emptiness that is left in our hearts."

Burnaz, who broke his leg, planned to propose to Cristea the day the attack occurred, BBC News reported.

Khalid Masood, a 52-year-old British-born citizen, killed four other people and injured dozens outside Westminster Palace in central London. He drove a car into pedestrians on the bridge, then fatally stabbed a police officer before Masood was shot dead.

Cristea, who fell into the River Thames when Masood rammed into pedestrians, died on Thursday after she was taken off life support. It is not clear if Cristea was struck by Masood's vehicle or if she leapt into the river to escape from getting struck.

"Tragic to hear of the death of Andreea Cristea, rescued from river after Westminster attack. Let us pray hope and comfort for her family," the Church of England's Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby said in a statement.

London's Metropolitan Police Service in late March said it found no evidence Masood was connected to international terror organizations, such as the Islamic State or al-Qaida.

The victims are south Londoner Leslie Rhodes, 75; Police Constable Keith Palmer, 48; British citizen Aysha Frade, 43; U.S. citizen Kurt Cochran, 54, of Utah; and Cristea.

"Deeply saddened to hear of the death of Andreea Cristea. Londoners hold her & her loved ones in our thoughts today," London Mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement.

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