A young woman kissed her fiancé and told him “I love you” moments before she was caught up in the London Bridge and Borough Market terror attack, a inquest has heard.
Three women and five men died on June 3 2017 after three men ploughed into crowds in a white van before stabbing revellers with 12in ceramic knives.
The victims were Christine Archibald, 30, Xavier Thomas, 45, Alexandre Pigeard, 26, Sara Zelenak, 21, Kirsty Boden, 28, Sebastien Belanger, 36, James McMullan, 32, and Ignacio Echeverria, 39.
At the start of their inquests, families paid tribute to their loved ones in a packed Court One of the Old Bailey.
Canadian Ms Archibald was visiting London for the weekend with fiancé Tyler Ferguson when tragedy struck.
In a statement read to the court, Mr Ferguson said they had been “very much looking forward” to spending the rest of their lives together and starting a family.
On the day of the attack, Ms Archibald, who worked in a shelter, was feeling “proud” about negotiating the London Underground when they met for dinner.
Mr Ferguson said: “We decided to walk over London Bridge. At one point Chrissy stopped me out of nowhere, gave me a passionate kiss and told me she loved me.
“Then the attack happened and Chrissy was killed.”
He said he engagement ring was lost in the aftermath but later recovered.
Frenchman Mr Thomas’s girlfriend Christine Delcos, who was among the injured, was overcome by emotion as she gave a tearful tribute in French.
Accountant Mr Thomas was described by his family as “fearless, dynamic, unselfish, very hard working and always positive in every situation”.
The divorcee was “totally committed” to his two children and his relationship with Ms Decros was a “passionate love story”.
His killers were described in court by his parents as “barbarians” who had left them in “inconsolable despair”.
Australian au pair Ms Zelenak was on a “trip of a lifetime” when she was knifed to death while on a night out with a friend, her family said.
Her mother Julia Wallace said: “Sarz was the happiest she had ever been – working, travelling, meeting new people, doing all the things 21-year-olds should do. That was until June 3 when our lives changed forever.”
The mother of chef Mr Belanger, Josiane Belanger, told the court: “We miss him so much, his smile, his joie de vivre. I do not forgive what they did to him. They mutilated and killed him.”
All eight victims were killed and 48 more were seriously injured in less than 10 minutes of “high and terrible drama”, the chief coroner said.
Mark Lucraft QC expressed his condolences in court and added: “It is important to acknowledge that many lives were saved by the rapid response of members of the public and members of the emergency services.
“A number of those were eyewitnesses to the unfolding drama and will give evidence of what they saw.”
Mr Lucraft told the court he hoped the inquest would answer the “obvious and understandable questions” of the relatives and give them some comfort.
Earlier, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick, the head of UK counter-terrorism policing Neil Basu and the Commissioner of City of London Police Ian Dyson joined the families in standing for a minute’s silence.
The attackers, Khuram Butt, 27, Rachid Redouane, 30, and Youssef Zaghba, 22, were shot dead by police at the scene of the attack.
They launched their assault three months after Khalid Masood mowed down pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before stabbing a police officer to death.
The inquests are expected to examine why there were still no barriers to protect pedestrians on London Bridge by June 3.
Families will also want answers to how Butt was able to plan and carry out the attack while he was under investigation by security services.
In the coming weeks, the court will hear from witnesses, the family and friends of the attackers, and a senior MI5 officer.
Other evidence is expected to include CCTV footage of the attacks and the terrorists’ movements, body-worn video from police officers, and footage from members of the public caught up in the carnage.
– Press Association