Bravery

‘She would never walk on by’: Teen Abigail McCourt was the first person to help Salisbury nerve agent victims

Abigail McCourt was out with her family when she saw Sergei and Yulia Skripal slumped over on a park bench in Salisbury. (YouTube/SpireFM)

After a former KGB spy and his daughter were poisoned with a deadly nerve agent in the U.K., a 16-year-old was the first person to rush to help them, according to a report in the Guardian.

Abigail McCourt was out celebrating her brother’s birthday with her family when she saw Sergei and Yulia Skripal slumped over on a park bench in Salisbury, a city southwest of London. She initially thought Sergei had suffered a heart attack, and along with her mother, rushed to administer first aid.

“She’s trained in first aid and is in the cadet force at school, and she would never walk on by even if it was obvious it was dangerous,” Alison McCourt, Abigail’s mother, told the local radio station Spire FM.

At school, McCourt told her friends about what had happened, not knowing that she had stumbled into a major international incident. Later, once news of the poisoning had broken, a friend sent McCourt a snapchat asking if the people she had tried to save were Sergei and Yulia Skripal.

“I was a bit shocked, to be honest, because I don’t think I was expecting that to have happened,” McCourt said, according to the Guardian. “I needed to phone my mum and see if she was OK. It was a bit surreal.”

McCourt had to be tested at the hospital to ensure that she had not also been infected with Novichok, a highly lethal nerve agent. She was fortunately safe, but the concerns were not unwarranted; months after the Skripals were poisoned, a UK woman died after accidentally applying the nerve agent to her body. The Novichok was contained in a discarded perfume jar, and is believed to be the same substance used to target the Skripals.

Though they were nearly dead by the time they were brought to the hospital, both Sergei and Yulia recovered from the attack. U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May has said that the poisoning had “almost certainly” been sanctioned by the Russian state, according to the Guardian. Two Russian nationals, reportedly officers of Russia’s military intelligence service, have been accused of flying to the U.K. and applying the nerve agent to the Skripal’s door handle.

Read more at the Guardian.

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