Bondi stabbing: Survivor Liya Barko reunited with hero Wayne Tolver-Banks, thanking her for living

Max Corstorphan
The Nightly
2 Min Read
Liya Barko reunited with Wayne Tolver Banks after he saved her life during the Westfield Bondi Junction Stabbings.
Liya Barko reunited with Wayne Tolver Banks after he saved her life during the Westfield Bondi Junction Stabbings. Credit: Nine

A survivor who was stabbed in the Westfield Bondi Junction stabbings has been reunited with her saviour in an emotional meeting, and her “superhero” had four heartwarming words for her.

Liya Barko was at Westfield Bondi Junction when 40-year-old Joel Cauchin went on a knife-wielding rampage, fatally stabbing six people and injuring many more before being shot dead by police.

Ms Barko, a Ukrainian-born cleaner, said Cauchin targeted her seemingly at random when he stabbed her in both of her kidneys.

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“He (Joel Cauchin) just looked at me and he decided in that moment, and then I look at my hand, and I was bleeding,” she told Nine News.

Ms Barko was saved by Wayne Tolver-Banks and his wife, Michi who stepped in during the harrowing moments when a knife-wielding assailant targeted innocent shoppers.

When Mr Tolver-Banks came face to face with Ms Barko for the first time, his words were simple.

“I am so happy to see you alive. It is so good,” he said.

“Thank you for living.”

Ms Barko spoke about Mr Tolver-Banks’s calm demeanour amidst the panic, as he kept her safe.

“If you scream, he knows where you are ... he can find you,” Mr Tolver-Banks said as the terror unfolded.

“When you are on the floor, you’re bleeding, you can see everyone’s expression and some of them were crying, they were scared for their lives also,” she said.

Ms Barko recalled waking up in hospital days later to a healthcare worker’s smile.

“He was so happy, I have never seen someone really so happy,” she said.

“I thought okay, if I die right now, I’ll just destroy his shift. So I can’t die right now because he’s just so happy.”

Mr Tolver-Banks said his former military training was crucial in his quick actions.

“It was tough, you could say I wasn’t ready for it, but I looked at you,” he told Ms Barko, “and when I saw the man stab you, I said I have to help you because I didn’t want you to die.”For Barko, Tolver-Banks’s timely intervention was nothing short of divine providence. “You were my angel appearing in the right place at the right time,” she expressed, her gratitude palpable.

Ms Barko was overcome by the opportunity to thank her saviour, describing him as an “angel appearing in the right place at the right time.”.

“That was one of the reasons I stayed calm.”

“All these movies with superheroes. After this situation, these are the superheroes we really need on our side,” she said.

“The people who can be with you when you suffer, taking care of you.”

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