URI student in London close to deadly attack: Shaken, but safe

In this image taken from video, members of Britain's House of Parliament observe a minute of silence paying respect to the victims of yesterday's attack in London, Thursday March 23, 2017. On Wednesday a man went on a deadly rampage, first driving a car into pedestrians then stabbing a police officer to death before being fatally shot by police within Parliament's grounds in London.(PA via AP)

(WPRI) — Kathryn Dery is taking a class while studying abroad in London that requires her to attend Parliament sessions.

The University of Rhode Island student was just minutes away from Westminster Bridge and the Parliament grounds Wednesday afternoon when, police say, a knife-wielding man hit pedestrians on the bridge with his car, then stabbed an armed police officer to death.

Dery has been in Europe for three months, and it’s been a dream of hers to visit England since she was a little girl. “I’ve always wanted to go. My mom went to London when she graduated from high school and she always talked about how much she loved it, so I was always very interested.”

While “our neighborhood is amazing,” she said, the beauty was shattered when the attack happened. It’s a 20-minute trip to the heart of the city to go to class — “It’s British politics, inside Parliament, so I actually go into the House Commons for the class.”

Police secure the area on the south side of Westminster Bridge close to the Houses of Parliament in London, Wednesday, March 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

The attack happened a couple of hours before she would have been at the site. It was a stroke of luck, she said, that she wasn’t already on the grounds: “That area is so popular, we usually go in a little bit earlier — We’ll get food.”

The world has now seen the images of the fire brigade and paramedics on Westminster Bridge. “Where the car was on the sidewalk — That’s where I walk in for class,” Dery said.

It’s actually the second time Dery had a brush with an area targeted by terrorists in recent weeks. “When I went to Paris, I was on the train when the shooting at the Louvre happened.” In that case, a knife-wielding man attacked soldiers on patrol near the famed museum. France’s president called it a terrorist attack.

But since the Paris attack, and since the London attack, Dery says messages of hope and perseverance are circulating.

“The people here are incredible,” she said. “I mean, the resiliency — everyone that has been here — and just the positivity that’s coming from it, though it’s hard to find positivity in it. Every tube station has inspirational quotes when you walk in the door. Symbols like that make me feel very lucky to be here, and to be around these people.”

And she’s not going to let fear hold her back for the rest of her time abroad; she plans to travel to Ireland and Switzerland before coming back home in May.