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Friends and family gather for a concert, not a funeral, for terrorist victim Kurt Cochran

BOUNTIFUL — It took less than 90 seconds for a terrorist to drive through a crowd of pedestrians on London's Westminster Bridge on March 22, killing four and injuring scores of others.

Melissa Cochran, who was visiting England's capital to celebrate her 25th wedding anniversary, doesn't really remember those moments of violence that would change her life forever.

But she does remember what she and her husband, Kurt Cochran, we're doing before the attack that fatally injured Kurt and left Melissa with a severely broken leg, broken ribs, a broken back and a serious head injury.

"Kurt and I were just having a wonderful day," Melissa said. "We couldn’t believe how much fun we were having, and we just kept grabbing each other's hand and kissing and saying, ‘I’m having so much fun with you,’ and just being happy and enjoying.

"And I’m greatful for that."

On Saturday, Melissa, along with about 150 family members, friends and neighbors, gathered at Bountiful City Park for a daylong concert in memory of Kurt, who ran a West Bountiful recording studio and lived a life that celebrated and supported music and the people who make it.

"This is a fitting celebration for him," Melissa said. "All of the bands that are playing have recorded at the studio or Kurt has been involved with them in some way."

While it's been a full three months since the incident that left a total of six people dead, including the attacker and a London police officer who encountered the man after he crashed his vehicle at the end of the bridge and was attempting to enter the Parliament building, Melissa Cochran is still recovering from her injuries, with an Ilizarov cage on her left leg and walking with the assistance of a cane. She, however, said she bears no malice toward the man responsible for her injuries and her husband's death.

"I can't hate anybody," Melissa said. "Kurt wouldn’t want me to, and I just don’t have it in my heart to do that. Sometimes I’m angry at him, because my life has changed, but I certainly don’t hate him.

"I’ve tried not to look at pictures or even know what his name is because I don’t want any connection, and I have no time to waste my energy on hate."

Among those gathered for the memorial was London Metropolitan police officer Keith Malda, who was one of the initial first responders to reach the bridge after the attack.

"To the left side, there was body after body after body … and lots of members of the public helping them," Malda said. "Even if they didn’t know first aid, just holding a hand or just doing something."

Malda said he and his patrol team had entered the bridge, even though they had been instructed by their superiors not to, as information was still unclear as to what, if any, ongoing threats were present. But, he said, he and his fellow officers decided they really didn't have a choice because "we knew people were dying there."

"I got to a footpath … and that's where I first saw Melissa," Malda said. "There was a doctor holding Melissa's head in a way that suggested to me a spinal injury. And there was another lady laying next to Melissa, but she was screaming in pain."

Malda stayed with Melissa, who he said was conscious and talking but showing signs of severe shock. It took about an hour for ambulances to arrive and start transporting victims to hospitals. Malda rode to the hospital with Melissa, where she was rushed immediately into emergency surgery.

"The doctors managed to not only save her life but to save her leg as well, which was phenomenal because she really wasn’t in a good way," Malda said.

When asked what she thought about Malda making the trek from London to attend the memorial event, Melissa was immediately overcome with emotion.

"I owe my life to him," Melissa said. "He was one of the first responders. He was just there … telling me everything is going to be OK, and I just owe my life to him."

Melissa's brother, Clint Payne, said the decision to hold a concert in lieu of a funeral for Kurt was made in England where the family had gathered while Melissa was still in a London hospital recovering.

"It was almost automatic to decide to do a concert instead of a funeral for Kurt," Payne said. "This is what he would have loved."

One attendee, Steve Butler, said he hadn't ever met Kurt but had heard a lot about him from friends who had recorded at his Onion Street Studio.

"This is a pretty incredible thing happening today, and it feels really good to be here," Butler said. "From everything I'd heard, and just everybody's energy today, you can know that Kurt was a pretty special guy."

Highlights of the day's performances included music from various family members, including Kurt's son, Dallas Cochran. Almost all the performers offered remembrances of Kurt, with many sharing anecdotes from recording sessions.

Kurt operated the studio with Melissa's help as well as business partner Bret Layton. Layton said that the studio closed briefly after Kurt's death, but it reopened in May and was working with bands and musicians to make their dreams come true — a mission that Kurt was wholly committed to.

"The feeling of the importance of it all is tenfold now," Layton said. "He's not here anymore, and I just want to make him proud."

Melissa said her physical and emotional recovery was progressing day by day and that she was continuing to draw strength to face the future from the memories of her husband.

"I have to take this one step at a time," Melissa said. "If I can at least portray his love for people and his great heart and his forgiveness and kindness to everybody, that’s what I’m going to do."