Ignacio Echeverria, who died trying to help a woman being attacked by terrorists at London Bridge, was a committed Mass-goer who always stood up for the weak, his friends and family have said.
Mr Echeverria, 39, was among eight people killed in the attack on Saturday. Early reports said he had gone to a woman’s aid using his skateboard as a weapon.
His sister Isabel said on social media: “My brother Ignacio tried to stop the terrorists and lost his life trying to save others.”
The Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy said he would be remembered for his “heroic and exemplary behaviour” and has asked that he be awarded an order of civil merit.
His brother Joaquin told the Spanish El Mundo newspaper that he never missed a Sunday Mass. A friend told another paper that he had belonged to a group of young Catholics who had met weekly in Madrid and that he always stood up for the weakest. “When we were young, if he saw that someone was picking on a child in a bar, he came out in his defence,” the friend said.
Another friend, Rafael Duarte, noted that an uncle of his was a missionary bishop in Peru. Bishop Antonio Hornedo of Chachapoyas, who died in 2006, was a Jesuit who has a plaque in his honour in the town of Comillas.
In London Mr Echeverria worked for HSBC’s anti-money laundering team. Mr Duarte said: “He was an indefatigable worker and he did not hesitate to confront the bosses if he wasn’t happy with something … He helped those who were marginalised.”
A Canadian Catholic, Christine Archibald, 30, was also killed in the attack.
The Archibald family, parishioners of St Rita Parish in Castlegar, British Columbia, released a statement describing Christine Archibald as a person who “had room in her heart for everyone and believed strongly that every person was to be valued and respected.”
“She lived this belief working in a shelter for the homeless until she moved to Europe to be with her fiancé.
“She would have had no understanding of the callous cruelty that caused her death. Please honour her by making your community a better place. Volunteer your time and labour or donate to a homeless shelter. Tell them Chrissy sent you.”
Since the statement was released, the hashtag #Chrissysentme emerged across social media from people who have donated to Castlegar charities in Archibald’s honour.
Covenant House Toronto and Covenant House Vancouver, Catholic agencies for homeless youth, expressed gratitude for the outpouring of gifts.
“We are deeply moved by the #Chrissysentme movement occurring in response to the tragic violence in the London attacks,” Kristy Hayter of Covenant House Vancouver, told The Catholic Register in Toronto in an email.
The terrorist attack unfolded when three men in a van mowed down people on London Bridge and then left the vehicle to go on a killing spree in Borough Market, a popular restaurant and bar district located south of the river.
Archibald was said to be walking ahead of her fiancé when she was struck by the van. The three men were shot and killed by police at the scene.
Archibald, a graduate of Mount Royal University in Calgary, Alberta, worked at Alpha House in Calgary for two years before she moved to the Netherlands with her fiancé. Alpha House is a non-profit organization that provides programs for men and women struggling with drug and alcohol addictions.
“She came to us as a social work student and then became a social worker,” Kathy Christiansen, executive director of Alpha House, told CTV News. “But I think one of the things we can say about Chrissy is that she had a natural talent and she was loved by clients and staff alike.”
Archibald is survived by her parents, Greg and Barbara Archibald; two sisters, Kathryn Fairbank and Caroline Stuart; and her fiancé, Tyler Ferguson.
Residents of Castlegar are planning a Peace and Healing vigil on June 11 to commemorate Archibald as well as two other people in the community who recently died.
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