A Bourke Street terror attack victim has admitted he said his goodbyes to his beloved wife after being stabbed in the head by Hassan Khalif Shire Ali.
Tasmanian man and former firefighter Rod Patterson claimed he never thought he would become the victim when he rushed to the scene of a car explosion earlier this month.
Speaking publicly for the first time since the terrifying ordeal, the brave man told the ABC “the old fireman Rod” came back when he saw the car burst into flames.
Running towards to ute in Melbourne’s CBD, Rod thought he would be dragging someone to safety when he was instead stabbed in the head by the terrorist.
“Out of the corner of my eye I could see him coming. He [Shire Ali] was a big man and he came at me with momentum,” he told the ABC.
As he got up, Rod said he thought the attacker was going to come at him again before he saw him stab and kill much-loved Sisto Malaspina.
The Launceston resident, who was on holiday with his wife Maree, thankfully survived the attack but has been left with a scar from a 10 centimetre long gash that cut through four layers of muscle, an artery and required more than 120 internal and external stitches.
However, Rod admitted to the ABC that he and Maree thought they might have been spending their last moments together while they waited for emergency services to arrive at the scene.
“It wasn’t my day to die and that’s what I’m holding onto, although during it we did say our goodbyes,” he said.
While Rod is thankfully alive to tell his story, Sisto was not so lucky.
The 74-year-old co-owner of Pellegrini’s, who was well-known and loved around the city and beyond, was fatally stabbed by Hassan Khalif Shire Ali in the terror attack – leading to a flood of tributes from his friends, family and mourners in the days that followed.
Just yesterday some of Australia’s most high-profile politicians joined his loved ones in St Patrick’s Cathedral in the city to remember him and say a final farewell in a packed-out state funeral – with Sisto’s son David leading the readings inside.
Remembering his father’s bubbly personality, David said: “Dad never liked wearing black. Dad always thought the way you dressed should reflect your personality. Dad had a very colourful personality.”
He spoke of his father’s deep pride to live in such a “unique and wonderful city” and went on to thank emergency services for their bravery on the day of the horrific attack – adding that Sisto always ensured he gave emergency personnel priority service if they ever came into his restaurant while on duty.
“Our family have felt the emotion and witnessed the outpouring of love from so many people. Dad was so vibrant and warm,” he added, while paying tribute to the “overwhelming” love and support they have received.
“He didn’t consider you customers, he considered you friends, this we know for sure,” he went on. “To the staff at Pellegrini’s and Spaghetti Tree, your support over the years and especially in this last year has been nothing short of remarkable.”