Arnold Schwarzenegger has called the bereaved mother of Ella Kissi-Debrah “a hero” for her years-long battle for justice over the role London air pollution played in her daughter’s death.
The Hollywood star and former California governor sent a heartfelt letter to Rosamund Kissi-Debrah on the eve of the coroner’s ruling on Wednesday that London’s severe air pollution was partly to blame for the nine-year-old’s death from asthma.
He wrote: "As a father, I cannot think of anything worse than what you've been through.
— The Ella Roberta Family Foundation (@rosamund_ElsFdn) December 16, 2020
“There is no greater tribute to Ella's memory than your efforts to protect other children who live alongside busy intersections, close to factories, or downwind from powerplants.
“You are a hero. You proved that when you channeled your love for Ella into exposing air pollution for the killer it is. I am blown away by your bravery and honored to know you."
The family shared the letter on Twitter before Wednesday’s landmark ruling, when coroner Philip Barlow agreed that the air pollution and asthma were both causes of death.
Rosamund had campaigned for a second coroner’s examination following her daughter’s death in February 2013 from acute respiratory failure.
Watch: Justice for Ella but more action needed, mother says
The coroner said Ella had been exposed to nitrogen dioxide and particulate matter pollution in excess of WHO guidelines and that the failure to reduce traffic emissions to legal limits possibly contributed to her death, along with the failure to inform her mother of the potential impact of air pollution on her asthma.
Rosamund and Terminator star Schwarzenegger had met before over a Skype call on BBC Breakfast in January.
He told her then: “Air pollution kills seven million people around the world every year. The governments around the world should acknowledge that, not look the other way.
“I’m very proud of you: You just keep on fighting. You’re like the Terminator.”
Watch: Arnold Schwarzenegger praises Georgia secretary of state