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Crime

As Mom Of Youngest Manchester Victim Recovers, a Shattered Family Tries to Rebuild

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The mother of 8-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos, the youngest of the 22 people killed in May’s suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, is “awake” and “fully aware of the situation,” according to a Facebook post from a family spokesman.

Mike Swanson, a Roussos family friend, wrote that 48-year-old Lisa Roussos, who was injured while attending the show with Saffie and her other daughter Ashlee Bromwich, is “awake and out of surgery.”

Swanson wrote that “she is talking” and “is fully aware of the situation and is now out of any danger.”

Swanson tells PEOPLE that Lisa woke up on Sunday from a medically-induced coma, saying, “She’s talking, she’s still got her marbles.”

When asked if Lisa was aware of Saffie’s death, Swanson tells PEOPLE, “The truth is, at this moment is, it’s a very complex situation and all I can say is that she is ‘aware of the situation.’ ”

In his Facebook post, he commended the “strength” and “bravery” exhibited by the injured mother and her husband. “Now, they can start to deal and rebuild their lives,” he wrote.

He further noted that Ashlee is also on the road to recovery.

He tells PEOPLE that Lisa’s husband, Andrew, has been a pillar of strength.

“They are a very strong family. I am so proud of Andrew and the way he handled this. He has given us all a lot of strength. He is obviously the one we should be trying to give strength to, but it has been quite the opposite way around.”

Of Lisa and Andrew, he adds, “They are not just a couple, they are best friends as well.”

Swanson says that he and Andrew are trying to find positives to take out of the tragedy.

“I said to my little girl — my little girl is only 10 — I said, ‘Look, Saffie can change the world. She has changed the world. She is on everyone’s thoughts. Everyone’s mind.

“Even those stars that you both used to try and attract or tweet to, or upload YouTube videos to get them to notice them — all of them have noticed them now. Your friend Saffie is famous and she’s going to change the world by that, even though this has happened.”

‘Simply a Beautiful Little Girl’

In an interview with PEOPLE, Chris Upton, the headteacher at the Tarleton Community Primary School where Saffie studied, remembered her as “simply a beautiful little girl in every aspect of the word. She was loved by everyone and her warmth and kindness will be remembered fondly.”

Upton said that Saffie “was quiet and unassuming with a creative flair.”

Saffie was the second victim of the attack to be publicly identified.

Salman Abedi, 22, detonated an improvised explosive device near the ticket office outside Manchester Arena. Manchester police have said that Salman Abedi was part of a larger terrorist network and that he didn’t act alone. and several people have been arrested since the attack, including Abedi’s father and brother.

• Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Click here to get breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage and details of intriguing unsolved cases in the True Crime Newsletter.

Paul Reid, who was outside the arena to pick up a friend, was with Saffie during the final moments of her life. He found her lying on the floor, and he comforted her as she drifted in and out of consciousness.

“I asked her her name and I thought she said ‘Sophie,’ and I asked her age,” Reid told PEOPLE last month. “Then I realized she was struggling to talk and she asked, ‘Where’s my mum?'”

Reid, a forklift operator from Walsall, stroked her face and told her they would find her soon.

“She asked me, ‘What’s happened?’ And I said, ‘I don’t know — but we’re going to get you some help.’ I kept on being like, ‘Sophie, come on. We are going to go now’ — trying to keep her talking, keep her awake.”

This weekend, Grande will return to Manchester, where she will perform a charity concert to benefit the victims of last month’s terror attack.

The artist will be joined at the sold-out event by Katie Perry, Coldplay, Justin Bieber, Usher, Miley Cyrus, Pharrell Williams, and the Black Eyed Peas.