When Charlie Rowley found a sealed box with a bottle of perfume on the floor in the southern English town of Amesbury, he thought it would be a great gift for his two-year-old friend Dawn Sturgess. He gave it to her on June 30 and never imagined that the bottle was filled with a venomous drug called Novichok, a Russian chemical weapon that reserves the land for some of its deadliest attacks.
Rowley, one of only four people in The World known to have survived the Novichok poisoning, spoke on Tuesday in an exclusive interview with the British ITV television station describing the ordeal. According to Rowley, he found the small box still sealed and later removed the bottle from a cellophane wrapper to place a pump dispenser on it. He took some liquid on his hands.
"I washed it off, and I did not think anything of it," he said. "It all happened so fast."
Sturgess, his girlfriend, was not so lucky. Rowley said she sprayed some liquid on her wrists and rubbed them together. Within 15 minutes, she told Rowley that she had a headache and then went to bathe. Rowley said he found her in a "very bad shape" in the bathtub. Sturgess died just over a week later, on 8 July.
The incident occurred about four months after former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and daughter Yulia were hospitalized for the Novichok exposure in Salisbury, a city eight miles from Amesbury. Skripal and his daughter had collapsed on a park bench and were unresponsive; Investigators said they believe Novichok had been smeared on the doorknob of their home. The British government has said that Russia is responsible for the attack. Both Yulia and her father have since been released from the hospital.
The British police said there was no reason to believe that Rowley and Sturgess were targeted directly. But according to the Guardian, British intelligence officials assume that the script poisoning is still directly related to the poisonings of Rowley and Sturgess. "Experts at the top secret research facility in Porton Down, Wiltshire, are trying to find out if the Novi-Chok is from the same batch," the Guardian wrote.
Meanwhile, while Rowley is out of the hospital and on the road to recovery, he says he does not feel happy to be alive.
"They say I'm lucky, but I'm not happy," he said. "I lost my partner."
Former Russian spy Sergei Skripal fired more than 2 months after a nervous attack from the hospital
How a Russian spy was rescued from one of the deadliest nerve agents ever created
& # 39; My strength is growing daily: & # 39; Julia Skripal speaks for the first time since the poisoning