'Funny hat' attracted Wellington mom to snap photo with British officer before his death

Photo taken 45 minutes before London attacks
Posted at 6:21 PM, Mar 23, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-23 18:21:20-04

A Spring break trip to see her son in London captured so much more than Wellington mom, Staci Martin, could have ever imagined.

"It's my first time in London and I see his hat and I’m like I have to take a picture of him with his hat," she told us during a Skype interview from London Thursday morning.

Less than one hour later, Staci found herself in the middle of London terror.

"We got in an Uber not even 15 seconds later, we turned to the corner and this guy came up to the window and was like there was a shooting, there was a shooting we looked over and there was a helicopter and a ton of emergency vehicles," she said.

Yesterday's attacks killed three and among them was 48-year-old Keith Palmer, a husband, father and veteran police officer. The same Parliament officer who, just 45 minutes earlier, had taken a moment to capture a moment with Staci.

"They put his picture up and I said I think that's the guy and my husband and daughter thought I was crazy. We just couldn't believe it," she said.

Staci has since posted the photo on her Facebook page, along with a short but chilling timeline of events. Her FB post reads:

At 1:52 p.m., we were walking passed Parliament and I saw an officer. I liked his funny hat so I asked him if we could take a picture with me. He obliged. He was very polite.

At 2:40 he was fatally stabbed by the terrorist and died leaving behind a wife and children.

Staci believes the picture she took with Officer Palmer is one of the last photos of him taken alive.

She's working to get the picture to the officer's family.

"I feel obligated to make sure they have that.  They can cut me out of it, but I just want to make sure they have that of him," she said.

It was the hat that inspired the picture, but it's the man and what happened to him next that makes it unforgettable.

"You think if I had only been there a half an hour later in that exact spot. You can call it God or fate or whatever you want to call it, it's a little bit surreal for sure," she said.