SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah couple was enjoying the final day of their European trip to celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary when they were among the crowd of people on London’s Westminster Bridge who were struck by an SUV.
Kurt W. Cochran was one of two peopled killed and his wife, Melissa Cochran, was among dozens who were injured, according to a statement issued Thursday by the family through a Mormon church spokesman. The couple was visiting Melissa Cochran’s parents who were serving a church mission in London.
Authorities on Thursday identified a 52-year-old British man as the person who mowed down the Cochrans and other pedestrians and stabbed a policeman to death outside Parliament, saying he had a long criminal record and once was investigated for extremism — but was not currently on a terrorism watch list.
Pictures on Kurt Cochran’s Facebook page show the couple enjoying their sightseeing travels through Europe prior to the tragic events. In one post, there are pictures of German architecture beneath a caption, “Trier Germany. Another WOW!” In another, he is shown smiling and holding a German beer under the caption, “After a long day of sightseeing.”
Family and friends said they’re heartbroken over the loss of a loving husband and father who loved music.
For the last decade, the couple ran a recording studio in their basement where he helped musicians develop their talents. The couple lives in a middle class neighborhood with small, older homes arranged on both sides of a quiet road in a bedroom community just outside Salt Lake City.
Melissa Cochran’s brother, Clint Payne, said through a verified GoFundMe account webpage that the couple was among the first hit by a vehicle on the Westminster Bridge.
“Kurt was a good man and a loving husband to our sister and daughter, Melissa,” the statement said.
Melissa Cochran is still hospitalized. She suffered a broken leg, broken rib and a cut and bruises, said friend Mike Murphy.
Murphy, owner of Murphy’s Guitars in Bountiful, said Kurt Cochran would come into his shop regularly to buy recording equipment for his basement studio where he tried to help young bands get started by charging only a small fee for them to use the studio.
“He loved music,” Murphy said. “He was always around when there were music things going on.”
Emma Dugal, executive director of Bountiful Davis Art Center, said the couple has been volunteering at the organization’s annual summer arts festival for years. Calling what happened devastating, she said they both are very warm, friendly people and as a couple were inseparable.
She said Cochran’s death will have a huge impact on the music community, especially for young musicians.
“I know of musicians who lacked confidence and who weren’t sure how they wanted to present their talent, but Kurt encouraged them and got them out into performing, and has just made a huge difference in so many people’s lives.”
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,” Wiley said. “He was a good guy, everybody liked him. He always had a smile on his face.”
Neighbor Rick George said the couple seemed very excited about their trip to Europe, as it may have been their first big trip in years.
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 Donald Trump and Utah leaders expressed their sympathies and pointed to terrorism.
President Trump Tweeted: “A great American, Kurt Cochran, was killed in the London terror attack. My prayers and condolences are with his family and friends.”
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.”