Emotional tributes paid to Spanish skateboard hero a year after London Bridge attack

A year after Ignacio Echeverría lost his life when he confronted terrorists as they attacked a woman during the London Bridge attack, his father paid tribute to the son he lost.

Emotional tributes paid to Spanish skateboard hero a year after London Bridge attack
Photo: Issued by family of Ignacio Echeverría.

“He was a good man. And I want people to know that he always wanted to do good,” Joaquin Echeverría told the BBC in an emotional interview to mark the anniversary of the attack.

Echeverría, an HSBC expert in fighting money-laundering who lived in London, was one of eight killed in the June 3rd attack that saw three men mow down people in a van before going on a stabbing spree in the Borough market area.

The 39-year-old had rushed over to help a woman being assaulted and tried to defend her with a skateboard he had with him, prompting British media to dub him the “skateboard hero.”

“Ignacio intervened in the fight. And the next thing his friend said is that Ignacio was then being struck by the three terrorists,” explained his father, who lives in Las Rozas, an upmarket suburb to the west of Madrid.

“Two of the terrorists surround Ignacio and he’s distracted hitting the terrorist in front of him. And they stab him and he falls to the ground,” he said.

Echeverría was posthumously awarded the Great Cross of the Order of Civil Merit by the Spanish government which recognises “extraordinary services” by Spanish and foreign citizens.

King Felipe VI of Spain also paid tribute to him on a state visit to London last year, mentioning his bravery in a speech to the UK parliament.

Across Spain, skate parks have been named after Ignacio Echeverría to honour his inspiring actions.

But it was the tribute of a grieving father on the year anniversary of the attack that seemed most poignant.

“I think Ignacio did what he had to do,” his father said as his voice cracked and his chin trembled. “And I wouldn’t expect anything less.”

The reporter, Tom Burridge, commented that “many would have run away in that situation. He didn’t.” prompting the father to reveal more about his son’s character.

WATCH: The BBC interview in full

“Ignacio confronted situations, not like this one, when he had to stand up and be counted, to resolve problems for others. And that’s what he did. It wasn’t something new.”

He father revealed that just a few months before, when Ignacio had been visiting his home at Easter, the family discussed the then recent attack in Westminster during which PC Keith Palmer had been killed after confronting the terrorist.

“We spoke about him and we thought he was a hero. It seemed to us he went towards a (certain) death.

“And Ignacio said: ‘If I had been skateboarding past there on that day, that police officer would be alive.”

The father recounts how his other son, Ignacio’s brother had said: “So you would be dead?” and Ignacio replied: “Well.”

British Prime Minister, Theresa May, also paid tribute to the Spaniard during a commemoration in Southwark.

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May (C) lays a floral tribute at Southwark Needle on London Bridge, London on June 3, 2018, during a commemoration service on the first anniversary of the London Bridge terror attack. Photo: AFP

“Today we remember those who died and the many more who were injured, and also pay tribute to the bravery of our emergency services and those who intervened or came to the aid of others,” said May.

'The many stories of courage demonstrated that night will always stay with me – such as Ignacio Echeverría, who died after confronting the terrorists with the only thing he had, his skateboard.”

During a service held at Southwark Cathedral all the eight victims were remembered.

Those killed in the attack alongside Echeverría were Canadian Christine Archibald, 30, James McMullan, 32, from Hackney, Frenchmen Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sebastien Belanger, 36 and Xavier Thomas, 45, Australians Kirsty Boden, 28 and Sara Zelenak 21.







Three suspected jihadists held in Barcelona

A court in Spain on Monday remanded in custody three suspected members of Islamic State arrested last week in Barcelona, including an Algerian man who had fought for the Islamist group in Iraq.

Three suspected jihadists held in Barcelona
Archive photo of a suspected jihadist arrested near Barcelona. Photo: AFP

Spanish authorities began their investigation after becoming aware just before Christmas that the “potentially dangerous” Algerian man was in Spain, police said in a statement.   

The man, a “jihadist” who had fought for the Islamic State group in Iraq, was arrested at a building occupied by squatters in Barcelona's seaside neighbourhood of Barceloneta, the statement added.

Police detained two other Algerian men as part of the operation, one suspected of giving him “logistical support” in Spain and another described by police as has “acolyte”.

The operation was carried out in cooperation with European Union law enforcement agency Europol and the FBI, as well as the intelligence services of Spain and Algeria, the statement said.

The three men appeared before a court on Monday where the presiding judge ordered they be remanded in custody on suspicion of membership in a terrorist organisation.

Their arrest comes as the trial of three men accused of helping the jihadists behind the August 2017 attacks in Barcelona and a nearby town that killed 16 people is wrapping up at a court near Madrid.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attacks, one of which involved a van ramming people in the centre of Barcelona.   

While none of the three men on trial are charged with direct responsibility, they are in the dock for helping the attackers, who were all shot dead by police.