LONDON >> They were a young Romanian couple, in love, strolling across Westminster Bridge, taking in London’s memorable sights like dozens of other tourists.
A marriage proposal was in the air — though yet unstated — and the final photo captures their easy smiles and ebullient mood.
Then came Khalid Masood, driving his rented SUV into pedestrians. Andreea Cristea was knocked into the river below, and her boyfriend, Andrei Burnaz was badly injured. Masood rushed on to the grounds of Parliament, where he fatally stabbed a policeman.
London police said today Cristea had died the day before when her life support was withdrawn. Burnaz suffered a broken foot and survived the March 22 attack, but is bereft.
She became the fifth victim of Masood, a 52-year-old former convict who had embraced radical Islam. Dozens more were wounded in his rampage, which ended when he was shot dead on the grounds of Parliament.
It is not clear if Cristea ever regained consciousness after she was pulled from the River Thames. She had emergency surgery for a blood clot on the brain.
Her family and Burnaz described Cristea as “our shining ray of light that will forever keep on shining in our hearts,” and said they would donate all the money raised on her behalf since the March 22 attack to charity.
“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,” they said in a statement.
Pictures from Cristea’s closed Facebook page showed her on sunny seaside vacations and doing fitness exercises on the beach.
She and Burnaz were successful young professionals from the Black Sea port of Constanta. She was an interior designer; he is an engineer who has worked on various malls in the city.
Simona Vornicu, an employee at a beauty salon in Constanta where Cristea used to come for massages, told The Associated Press Cristea was optimistic by nature and challenged by her work.
She was “an upbeat person who loved the sea and art, she really liked what she did,” Vornicu said.
Cristea fell into the river during the attack. Witnesses saw her lying face-down in the Thames before she was rescued.
Burnaz needed surgery on his foot but has been discharged from the hospital. He was seen in a wheelchair at a memorial service for victims held last week.
Also killed in the attack were Utah man Kurt Cochran, 54; Britons Leslie Rhodes, 75, and Aysha Frade, 44; and 48-year-old police officer Keith Palmer. His funeral is scheduled for Monday.
Police believe 52-year-old Masood, who had convictions for violent crimes, acted alone.