The mother of 8-year-old Saffie Roussos, the youngest victim of the suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in the U.K., awoke from her coma and knew that her daughter was dead without having to be told, Saffie’s father has revealed.
Andrew Roussos spoke out for the first time on the BBC to celebrate his daughter on what would have been her ninth birthday Tuesday.
“She was a joker. She was a huge character. She was just everything you could wish for in a little girl. She loved dancing, music, gymnastics. If she wanted something, she would do it,” he said.
Saffie’s mother Lisa was in and out of consciousness for days after the bomb attack on May 22 in Manchester. Many feared that Lisa did not know her daughter was dead – even as the world mourned for her.
However, Roussos said that when Lisa woke up, she already knew in her heart what had happened.
“She looked at me and said to me, ‘Saffie’s gone, isn’t she?’ ” Roussos recounted. “I was dreading it. She just looked at me and said, ‘She’s gone, isn’t she?’ I just looked at her and said, ‘Yeah.’ She goes ‘I knew.'”
Little Saffie Roussos was one of 22 victims killed after a suicide bomber detonated an explosive as concertgoers were leaving Grande’s packed show. More than 250 were injured, including 23 critically.
Saffie had gotten the tickets to Grande’s show for Christmas and was counting down the days until she could attend, Roussos said. She was with her mom and her older sister Ashlee Bromwich when the bomb went off.
Roussos said he met Grande on the eve of her One Love Manchester show that raised money for the victims’ families.
“I wanted to tell her what she meant to Saffie,” he said.
“All she could say to me was, ‘I’m sorry’, and I said, ‘You’ve got nothing to be sorry for. You made Saffie so happy with what you do’. She thanked me.”
Roussos recalled how when he arrived at the venue on May 22 he found Ashlee was being cared for, but he couldn’t locate Saffie or her mother. “We just walked round and all the police were there. It was chaos. You’re panicking and worrying. You don’t know what’s going on,” he told the BBC.
He was later informed by police that his daughter had died.
“I couldn’t take it in. I just sat there looking at him,” he said. “It’s just your worst nightmare. I didn’t know what to say, I didn’t know what to think.”
He added, “I knew that Saffie would love her pictures to be on, and to be spoken about on, TV,” he said and added that her mother, who has had several operations, is gradually getting better.
The rest of the family are being “strong for each other.” “We do a little bit of laughing, a little bit of joking, a little bit of crying and cuddling, and that’s how we get through the day,” he added.