Gerard Vowls was in Borough Market in Saturday night when the horrific massacre unfolded and witnessed the jihadis set on Sara Zelenak.
Gerard Vowls was in Borough Market in Saturday night when the horrific massacre unfolded and witnessed the jihadis set on Sara Zelenak. Stephen Lock

Sara Zelenak’s death haunts the man who tried to save her

THE man who tried desperately to save Australian nanny Sara Zelenak from a trio of knife-wielding terrorists in London says he's haunted by her death.

Gerard Vowls was in Borough Market in Saturday night when the horrific massacre unfolded and witnessed the jihadis set on the 21-year-old from Brisbane.

He used whatever objects were in reach - glasses, chairs and even parts he ripped off a bike - as projectiles.

And he even egged the ruthless attackers to chase him and take him on instead. But it was to no avail.

In an interview with The Australian, the distraught hero said he wanted Sara's loved ones to know "someone really tried so very hard to save her.''

Gerard Vowls wants Sara Zelenak’s family to know: “someone really tried so very hard to save her.’’
Gerard Vowls wants Sara Zelenak’s family to know: “someone really tried so very hard to save her.’’ Supplied

Gerard has been unable to sleep since realising the beautiful young blonde woman he tried to help had passed away, one of eight killed in the attack.

"Something is pulling on my heart, I am empty inside: what I saw was the worst thing in the world," he said from his home in the British capital.

"To Sara's family, I just want to say I am so very sorry for their loss. I really tried to help her and get them to chase me."

Borough market in London during the London terror attacks. Gerard threw any item he could at the attackers.
Borough market in London during the London terror attacks. Gerard threw any item he could at the attackers. Gabriele Sciotto

He was in a bar when the three terrorists worked their way through the popular dining and entertainment district.

Friends told UK media that Sara had been slowed down while trying to flee by her high heels.

"She was crying out 'Help me! Help me!' and I tried so hard, screaming to get them to look at me," Gerard recalled.

He threw pint glasses, beer bottles and bar stools in a bid to subdue and distract the men.

"I had no weapon but I saw a bike on the ground and tried to use that. As I went to throw it, one of the attackers turned to me with his machete and started to chase me.

"I wanted all of them to chase me so they would leave her alone and so I ran down to the community garden.''

The attackers were shot dead by police eight minutes after the rampage began.
The attackers were shot dead by police eight minutes after the rampage began. Gabriele Sciotto

He has been hailed a hero for his actions in the midst of sheer terror.

While trying to lure the attackers away, Gerard began screaming for onlookers in the distance to flee too.

Two tourists credit his frenzied warning with saving their lives. They sent a note afterwards saying: ''We would have been directly in their path, Gerard gave us precious seconds."

He is struggling to cope in the week since, saying he doesn't know if he'll ever get over it.

"I am ripped apart knowing she died, it's destroy­ing me."

Floral tributes are seen outside Moreton Bay College, Queensland, Thursday, June 8, 2017.
Floral tributes are seen outside Moreton Bay College, Queensland, Thursday, June 8, 2017. AAP Image - Sonia Kohlbacher

Sara's mum Julie Wallace spoke to a Brisbane radio station on Tuesday and said the family was devastated.

"My boys are insanely distraught," she told 97.3FM. "We're a very close family, but I have to stay strong for them because that's what I've got to do."

Sara left for Europe in March and had already had a few brushes with terror, she revealed.

"The one with the policeman being stabbed three months ago, she was there the day before in the exact same spot," she said.

"She was going to go to the [Ariana Grande] concert. Everything she's just missed."

Originally published as 'It's destroying me. I'm empty inside'

News Corp Australia

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