Ionut Popa, aged 23, and his girlfriend were planning to get married in just under two months. Ionut, who was from Romania, worked with his cousin, Petrica Geneva, as a building labourer. The two men normally took a lift to work in their boss’s van, but on 11 March 2004, the vehicle was in for repairs and they decided to take the train instead. They both caught the train in Coslada. They were killed in Santa Eugenia station. Ionut Popa’s family had to wait four days for his body to be identified.
11 March 2004 fell on a Thursday. Early that morning, a number of terrorists with links to Al-Qaeda planted thirteen bombs on four suburban trains covering routes running through Madrid. Ten of the bombs exploded between 7.37 and 7.39 am, when the trains were at Atocha, El Pozo and Santa Eugenia stations and alongside Calle Téllez. 191 people were killed in the attack and around 1,500 were wounded. It was the deadliest terrorist attack in Spanish history. On 3 April 2004, agents from the Special Operations Group (GEO) were about to enter an apartment in Leganés where the perpetrators of the attacks were believed to be hiding when the terrorists detonated twenty kilograms of explosives in an act of collective suicide. The ensuing blast killed one of the officers, bringing the total number of people killed by the 11 March bombers to 192.