SALT LAKE CITY -- Family members of a Utah couple celebrating their anniversary on a European vacation say they’re heartbroken by the London attack that killed the man and seriously injured his wife.
Kurt W. Cochran and his wife, Melissa, were on the last day of their trip celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary when the deadly attack played out in the heart of London, according to a statement issued by the Mormon church. She remains in a hospital.
An attacker plowed an SUV into pedestrians Wednesday on London’s Westminster Bridge, killing three people and wounding dozens before fatally stabbing police Officer Keith Palmer inside the gates of Parliament. The assailant was shot dead by armed officers.
The death toll increased from four to five, including the attacker, on Thursday night, when a 75-year-old man wounded in the attack was taken off life support, the Metropolitan Police said.
Police identified the person responsible for the attack as 52-year-old Khalid Masood. Police say Masood, who had a number of aliases, wasn’t the subject of any current investigation and that “there was no prior intelligence about his intent to mount a terrorist attack.”
Kurt Cochran was a good dad and likable guy who will be missed dearly by his two adult sons, said Danny Wiley, the step-father to Cochran’s sons.
Wiley said he and Cochran always got along well. He says Cochran loved skateboarding and playing basketball with his sons.
“It’s devastating,” said Wiley, who lives in West Valley City, Utah. “He was a good guy, everybody liked him. He always had a smile on his face.”
The church said the Utah couple was also visiting the woman’s parents, who are serving as Mormon missionaries in London. Her family in a statement made by her brother, Clint Payne, said Cochran will be greatly missed.
“Kurt was a good man and a loving husband to our sister and daughter, Melissa,” the statement said.
The family also thanked emergency and medical crews. They asked for prayers and privacy. The couple was initially scheduled to return to the U.S. on Thursday.
Payne, through a verified GoFundMe account webpage, said his sister and brother-in-law were among the first hit by a vehicle on the Westminister Bridge.
He said the Cochrans were self-employed, running a recording studio business for the past 10 years. They have also given their time to school productions and a local community festival in their hometown of Bountiful, about 10 miles north of Salt Lake City, he said.
The London attack comes exactly one year after four Mormon missionaries - three from Utah - were seriously injured in a Brussels airport bombing on March 22, 2016.
On Thursday, President Trump called Cochran “a great American” on Twitter.
“A great American, Kurt Cochran, was killed in the London terror attack,” the president said. “My prayers and condolences are with his family and friends.”
Also, several Utah lawmakers expressed their sympathies and pointed to terrorism.
Utah Gov. Gary Herbert, speaking to reporters at a regularly scheduled news conference, said it was “a sign of the times” that a local Utah man was a victim because terrorist attacks seem to happen more frequently.
U.S. Rep. Mia Love in a statement said in part: “This kind of vicious terrorist attack cannot be tolerated. We, as Utahns are united in grief and loss.”
And a statement from U.S. Rep. Chris Stewart, who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, read: “We are in the midst of a generational fight against global terrorism. But we must keep our heads high. We cannot let the world’s evils destroy our values and take our freedoms.”