24 Jun, 2022 @ 10:30
3 mins read

EXCLUSIVE: Father of slain hero who fought London Bridge terrorists with a skateboard opens heart about sainthood application

Ignacio Echevarria
Image: The Olive Press

THE proud father of a Spanish terrorist victim in London has told how the bravery of his son deserves sainthood.

Describing him as ‘a Colossus, a really strong man’, he said his son Ignacio had grown up as a thoughtful and caring man with a ‘heart of gold’.

In a moving interview from his home in Madrid, former engineer Joaquin Echevarria Alonso, 73, confirmed how the family have officially presented an application for his sainthood to the Archbishop of Madrid.

“The Catholic Church recommended we create an association to start the process of canonisation and they have now accepted the application,” he said.

“We are just starting the process now, but we are really hopeful as to become a saint you need to be well known and Ignacio is certainly that, which is a good head start.”

He added that it had been a very happy coincidence that on July 12, 2017, just a month after his death, the Vatican opened a new application process for sainthood for ‘people who have lost their lives on behalf of others, which obviously included the death of Ignacio.”

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Ignacio Echevarria as a young boy with his family. Image: The Olive Press

“It can also happen that the devil’s lawyer decides not to grant the canonisation to him, but we really hope not.

“He was a really down-to-earth person, so I think if he gets canonised it will be really amazing for us and he will become a really good natural role model for society.

“He will make the perfect saint because he died saving the lives of others and put his life in danger to help a policeman to fight against a few terrorists with explosives.

“Despite seeing a number of the police actually run away from the fight, he decided to take part in it and put his life at risk.”

The 39-year-old banker was one of eight people killed in the attack that took place on the night of June 3, 2017. He was stabbed in the back  when he swung his skateboard at the terrorists and was pronounced dead at the scene.

“Ignacio would never have imagined he’d be canonised… and I’m sure he would be far happier alive.”

He continued: “I am pursuing his canonisation because I want real role models for society not just sports people.

“We cannot resurrect him so we want to at least make his death useful.

“Ignacio was a person who always took care of people and when he saw someone abusing someone else, he would always defend the victim.”

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Ignacio Echevarria with his skateboard. Image: The Olive Press

“In fact he told us just a few days before his death that had he been skateboarding on the day a policeman died near Westminster a few weeks before, he would have stepped in and saved him.

“He said that he often skateboarded near there and that policeman would have been alive.”

Much of his humility came from his upbringing going to local comprehensive schools around Galicia.

He had gone to live in London to work at HSBC bank having lost a banking job in Madrid.

It was a good job looking into money laundering and he loved his life in the city.

“He was having the best year of his life. He loved it.

“He moved there in part for the language and also because his sister, Isabel, lived there for many years and had children there.”

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Ignacio Echevarria with his family. Image: The Olive Press

He continued: “In fact we were due for a big family reunion with him and his sister and my nephews and nieces four days after his death.”

On the shock of his death, he said it had been an agonising wait.

“When Ignacio died, it took the British police more than three days to find out who he was.

“The Spanish ambassador in London initially told me my son was killed by the police, but I told him I was convinced that they did not kill him.”

“If my son was killed by the police I would have supported the police as we need to support the west against terrorism.

“If anyone is to blame it is the terrorists, not the British people or the police.”

He added: “I didn’t want to attend the court cases as I have faith in the British system and British justice.”


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