Student receives commendation for bravery

17 March 2010

A University of Sydney student who rescued his girlfriend after she was shot in the leg during the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India, has been commended by the Governor-General, Her Excellency Quentin Bryce AC.

Second year medical student David Coker has been awarded an Australian Bravery Decoration - the Commendation for Brave Conduct - the fourth highest Bravery Award Decoration in Australia.

David and his girlfriend Katie Anstee had been in India for a mere two hours before finding themselves in the midst of violence during the Mumbai terrorist attacks.

They were dining at the Leopold Café, a well-known tourist spot in Mumbai when gunmen opened fire.

While other customers ducked below the tables, David recalls crouching down and running for the door, only to turn around and find Katie missing. He ran back to their table to find her wounded and crawling towards the exit.

"I dragged Katie onto the footpath, before I lay on her, whilst the shooting continued," he says.

"I was just solely focussed on getting to Katie, on just trying to get us both out as quickly as possible and as safely as possible."

It was for this act of bravery that David has been recognised, though he finds the recognition overwhelming.

"It's quite humbling firstly for someone to nominate you," he says. "And then for the people who determine these things to think you are worthy."

The visit to Mumbai was meant to be the first leg of an 11-week trip to celebrate the couple's recent graduation from law school.

Now in his second year of studies at the University of Sydney Medical School David says he likes to think the incident hasn't changed his life too much.

"I started here at University, and just got on with normal life," he says. "We've been fortunate that we haven't had lasting problems, we're both very thankful for that."

A total of 44 people will receive the Commendation this year. David will be presented with his award in a ceremony taking place April in his native state Queensland.

Media inquiries: Sarah Stock,, 0419 278 715.