Brave officer fought to ‘stay alive’ after London Bridge attack
A police officer has described how he “fought with everything I’ve got to stay alive” after he was repeatedly stabbed in the head by one of the London Bridge terrorists.
Pc Charlie Guenigault was off duty, unarmed and not wearing any protective clothes when he rushed to the aide of a British Transport Police officer on June 3 2017.
After being stabbed twice in the back and three times in the head, the 27-year-old counted himself “lucky” to survive.
As gunshots went off nearby, two passersby stayed with him before he was rushed to King’s College hospital in an unmarked police car, saving valuable time.
In an interview marking the conclusion of the victims’ inquest, he said: “Without a shadow of a doubt that’s the reason I’m alive, seeing the amount of blood I lost, seeing the amount of trauma.
“I have been told different things like if ‘you were there another five minutes you may have died from blood loss’.”
The proud Met Police officer had been on his way home from after work drinks in a pub showing the football when the three attackers struck.
He reached Tooley Street and stopped in his tracks when heard someone call out: “Help I’ve been stabbed”.
When the attackers appeared, Pc Guenigault ran in to back up Pc Wayne Marques, followed by victim Ignacio Echeverria, waving his skateboard.
Pc Guenigault said: “We got into a scrap with them. We thought it was a fight. We would not expect a terrorist attack of that nature to happen.
“I think I can defend myself quite well. I’m not saying I’m an expert in karate or anything like that, but I can fight.
“In my head I just see all three of them standing in front of me, knives in hand and fake vests on and that look of ‘We’re going to kill you’ basically that sort of anger in their eyes.
“I remember them thrusting towards me with their knives.”
He was stabbed in the back twice and dropped to the ground with a “massive thud”.
Pc Guenigault said one of the terrorists stood over him and stabbed him three times in the head, to shouts in a foreign language.
“When I got stabbed in the head it sounded like an explosion.
“It just felt like someone had punched me in the face with a massive fist. It didn’t hurt much. I could definitely feel it going into the skin, going into the bone. It was painful afterwards of course.”
The officer kicked out on the floor in an effort to get away until he felt his body gave up.
He said: “I remember being ‘well they are going to stab me again it’s just a matter of where is it was going to be.
“Is it going to be in my head? Is it going to be in my chest? It was that inevitability about it. “
Pc Guenigault said he “played dead” and waited for the next blow which never came.
“For whatever reason whether or not they thought I was dead or someone else distracted them or they moved on to their next target they had left me.
“I knew at that stage I’m not going to die like this. I’m going to fight with everything I’ve got to stay alive. I could still see out of my eyes. I knew there was going to be a chance.
“So I rolled over as best I could into the recovery position…. making sure I was not getting blood in my eyes or passed out.
“Within a matter of seconds two members of the public came over – Justin and Ellen who I have had the pleasure to get to know.
“At this point I knew it’s a terrorist attack so I knew there would be people here soon.
“I just told Ellen to tell police where we were. To Justin, I said you need to stop the blood, hold my hand, talk to me, keep me awake. I did get quite lucky.”
Pc Guenigault was bleeding heavily, going into shock but tried to stay calm.
Despite his heroics, he said: “I would not do the same thing again because I do not want to put my family and friends through that. That was the biggest thing for me to get over. I could not let them go through that again.”
Pc Guenigault said his training for the marathon helped his physical recovery.
He said: “I trained for the marathon that year. I was in the best shape of my life when I got stabbed. Doing all that training, being that fit probably saved my life. Hence why I wanted to do it again afterwards.”
Despite regaining his physical strength, Pc Guenigault was helped by family, friends and counselling to get over the trauma of the attack and now helps train new recruits.
On being awarded the George Medal, he said: “I would say getting the George Medal was more important for my family than me. The biggest reward I’ve got is my life. Anything else is a bonus.”
Referring briefly to the terrorists, he added: “At the inquest…people want to find blame for why such things happened – there are only three people to blame.”