explainer

The final moments of Sara Zelenek, the Australian killed in the London Bridge terror attack.

Australian Sara Zelenak, 21, was one of eight people murdered in the London Bridge terror attack in 2017.

Two years later, her mother and stepfather are in Britain sitting through an inquest into her death.

The Brisbane au pair had been itching to explore the world, and had only arrived in London three months prior to the day she was killed.

The Quicky looks into the final moments of Sara and fellow Australian Kirsty as told at the inquest. Post continues after podcast.

But despite her brief time in the country, the London Bridge attack that took her life was not Sara’s first experience with terror. It was her third.

She was very nearly at the scene of the Westminster attack in March, and had tickets for Ariana Grande’s concert in Manchester in May 2017.

“Keep safe and watch out for these creeps,” her grandmother texted her after the Westminster terror attack. She’d only been in the UK two weeks at that point, and had been at the exact scene of the crime the day before a car ploughed into pedestrians killing six people.

Sara also planned to attend Ariana’s concert two months later, the scene of a second mass terror attack that killed 22 people as they streamed out of the stadium. She didn’t end up going.

But a month later, on June 3, 2017, three terrorists wearing stab proof vests drove a van into pedestrians on London Bridge before heading on foot into Borough Market where they attacked revellers and diners with hunting knives.

The rampage lasted just over 18 minutes, before the trio were shot dead by police.

Sara was found stabbed in the throat on Borough High Street, the inquest heard her high heels and the wet ground played a part in her not being able to get away quick enough.

Fellow Australian Kirsty Boden, 28, as well as Christine Archibald, 30, James McMullan, 32, Xavier Thomas, 45, Ignacio Echeverria, 39, Alexandre Pigeard, 27, and Sebastien Belanger, 36, were also killed. Forty eight others were injured.

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The victims of the London Bridge terror attack. Image: BBC.
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It was a Sunday morning in Australia when the news broke.

Sara's mother Julie Wallace immediately messaged her daughter.

“Hope you are okay after attack in London. Maybe stay away from crowds. Never know where these attacks will be next. Keep safe. Love you," she wrote.

But Sara didn't respond.

As the day turned to night, Julie called her daughter "a hundred times".

Her partner Mark Wallace started cold calling every accident and emergency room in greater London. The hospitals were tight lipped.

They started to panic.

"Have you ever lost your child in the supermarket? How did you feel? It was like that but for four days," Julie described to Australian Story.

Finally the Australian Federal Police got in contact and told the couple Sara had been in the area of Borough Market and was officially listed as missing.

Three days after the attack, Julie and Mark were on a plane to London still unsure if their daughter was dead or alive.

When they landed they received a message that confirmed Sara's death.

On Australian Story, Mark described that awful moment.

“As soon as Jules stood up and started crying then she didn’t have to say anything. I knew. We were both just bawling our eyes out. We couldn’t believe it."

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As the days went by, Sara's last moments were pieced together. She'd been dining metres from where the terrorists began their attack. It was likely she was one of their first victims.

Kirsty Boden, a fellow Aussie, died just metres from Sara. She was awarded a posthumous Queen's Commendation for Bravery for trying to help the injured.

Sara's parents held a service for Sara at the exact place her body was found, in front of the Southwark Cathedral.

She was remembered as a "positive and popular" friend, with social media flooded with tributes to her.

“Such a character, with the funniest sudden bursts of laughter, and a great talent for using noises instead of adjectives," wrote one.

“Rest easy wherever you are, I hope there is lots of KFC and hot boys with you,” said another.

Sara's best friend wrote a tribute to Sarz, as she was known to her friends, for Mamamia, in which she said: "Sara never said a bad word about anyone; she was too busy enjoying her life. She was a pure delight to be around and such a good role model for us."

Her parents have started a charity called Sarz Sanctuary, which provides support to those suffering from traumatic grief as a result of a sudden or violent death.

Their website reads: "It is hard to put into words how unbelievably traumatic, shocking, painful and unfair it has been losing Sara.

"As parents, we don’t think we will ever be able to come to terms with losing our child.

"We, along with our two sons and extended family, feel the pain of losing her every day - but we also continue to feel her love surrounding us and feel her guiding us in everything we do."

Their Facebook is lovingly dedicated to meeting Sara in Paris. They were due to do just that when she died.

Sara's last words to her mother were "Mum, see you in 26 sleeps in Paris".

So now Julie and Mark will visit Paris in Sara's honour, cycling from London Bridge to the Eiffel Tower, raising money for Sara's charity. You can join them this year if you'd like.

The inquest is expected to run for eight weeks, and will be followed by an inquest into the terrorists.

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