LONDON— The family of an injured Utah woman and her husband who was killed in the terror attack on London's Westminster Bridge say they hold no ill feelings toward the man responsible, but instead are focusing on the love and closeness within their family.
Gathered at New Scotland Yard in London for their first press conference since the attack last week, 13 family members of Melissa and Kurt Cochran said Monday their daughter and sister is healing as the world learns about her husband, a man they described as "larger than life."
Clint Payne, Melissa Cochran's brother, said the family is following what they think Kurt Cochran's example would be in not fixating on any negative feelings toward the attacker.
"For those of us who knew Kurt in life know that Kurt would not bear ill feelings toward anyone, and we can draw strength as a family from that," Payne said. "His whole life was an example of focusing on the positive. Not pretending that negative things don't exist, but not living our life in the negative, and that's what we choose to do also."
The family described the kindness and love that has flowed in since the attack. Payne also shared a message of thanks from his sister, who he said has been regaining strength and is "steadily improving" since her family joined her in London.
"The most terrible part of this is that Kurt is no longer with us, and we miss him terribly," Payne read from a family statement. "He was an amazing individual who loved everyone and tried to make the world a better place. He left a legacy of generosity and service that continues to inspire us. We are deeply saddened to lose him, but are grateful that the world is getting to know him and be inspired by him."
The man responsible, U.K.-born resident Khalid Masood, was shot and killed by police. The Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack but some reports Monday indicated police have found no connection between him and the Islamic State or al-Qaida.
The Cochrans, of West Bountiful, were spending their 25th wedding anniversary in Europe and concluded their trip in London to visit the woman's parents, who are currently serving a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the London England Temple.
The couple had no set itinerary for the trip to London, the family said, but instead enjoyed simply soaking in the city.
"They loved it here, and Kurt repeatedly said he felt like he was at home," Clint Payne said.
According to his mother-in-law, Sandra Payne, Kurt Cochran had enjoyed every moment of the "perfect" trip around Europe and especially reveled in going up and talking to people wherever the couple visited.
The family declined to comment on the attacker or the assertion that he acted in the name of religion when he deliberately drove an SUV into pedestrians on the bridge and then stabbed a police officer outside Parliament.
Shantell Payne, Melissa Cochran's sister-in-law, called the attack "horrible and gut-wrenching," but emphasized the family wants only to help the woman to heal rather than ask her to relive the tragedy.
As the family learned of the attack, pictures surfaced showing Kurt and Melissa Cochran were among the injured, they said. When it was publicly announced that Kurt Cochran had been killed, condolences poured in from countless Utahns, the state's elected leaders, the West Bountiful and music communities the couple were so involved in, and President Donald Trump.
Sandra Payne said her daughter is recovering from a cut on her head, a broken rib and a badly injured leg.
"We're just so pleased with the progress she has made in the past few days. Her attitude is great right now, and I know that's because of all the love and the prayers that have come from all over the world," she said.
Echoing her mother, Jennifer Burton described her sister as a feisty and strong-willed fighter.
The family did not say when they expect Melissa Cochran to be released from the hospital. Dimmon and Sandra Payne, who have been in the U.K. for four months, said they will be released from their LDS mission and return to their home in Ogden soon.
"We want to take care of Missy, she's going to need a lot of help and support, obviously she's not going to be able to walk for a while," her father said. "I think our most important mission right now is to be with her."
Dimmon Payne said the tragedy has brought his already tight-knit family even closer.
"Our family has always been close together, and we've had some wonderful, wonderful times together, with Missy and Kurt right in the middle of that," he said. "We just love and support each other so much, and I think it's even made us that much stronger."
Shantell Payne said her brother-in-law will especially be missed at family gatherings, where he was known to draw his nieces and nephews to him like a magnet.
"It was fun to just sit back on the couch and watch him on the floor wrestling with all the kids, and they would literally, you know, six or seven of them, be piled on top of him, and he just loved it," she said. "That's really going to be a tough one for our little family members."
The family also described Kurt Cochran's love for music and ability to nurture creativity in others. The couple ran a recording company, Onion Street Studio, and were regular contributors to Bountiful's Summerfest music festival.
Sara Payne-McFarland and her husband, Jason McFarland, recounted the immediate and boundless support Kurt Cochran gave them when they formed a band shortly after they married. At no cost, Cochran attended virtually every show and went to great lengths to promote the group, Payne-McFarland said.
And while her brother-in-law preferred to remain backstage or in the crowd, he agreed to join the group onstage for their final performance, she said, donning a memorable vintage powder-blue tuxedo for the occasion.
"It was just so great to see him on stage and smiling with us," Payne-McFarland recalled. "That was just who he was, he was happy to share in what we had created, and he was so excited that we were able to accomplish something with our band."
McFarland said he and his wife are among the many people who benefitted from Kurt Cochran's support.
"He was just so passionate about creativity and he was so supportive of people who put themselves out there creatively," McFarland said. "To me, he was a huge inspiration of how to lift other people up and help them be artistic and creative, and to help other people do what they love."11 comments on this story
In the family's statement, Clint Payne thanked the first responders and medical personnel who have cared for Melissa Cochran, U.S. and British law enforcement and government for their support, Delta Airlines for arranging for the family to travel to London, and countless kind strangers for the messages, prayers and donations.
Of the almost nightly concerts and fundraisers happening in Utah in the couple's honor, Dimmon Payne said he has been overwhelmed with people's generosity.
"The people back in Utah have been amazing, just amazing," he said. "We're actually kind of excited to get back home and give everybody a hug."
A GoFundMe account has been established for the couple.