Student Shares Story Of London Bombings

By: Venton D. Blandin
By: Venton D. Blandin

July 11, 2005

Last week's terrorists blasts in London have reached across the ocean, and affected many people, including here in Charlottesville. We have the story of a University of Virginia student who was in London at the time of the attacks.

The story is of a young lady majoring in English at the University of Virginia. Katie McDaniel was studying abroad at Regents College in London. She explained what it was like for her to wake up to the sounds of bombs last Thursday.

"It's like any big city like New York, but London has a totally different vibe. I guess it's the long history," said McDaniel.

A history that has been changed forever with the date July 7, 2005. McDaniel, a third-year student at UVA, it was an average day. She was due to fly home after studying abroad for six weeks.

"I remember we sat in on Parliament one day. It was the day Jack Straw was addressing Parliament, and just watching the MPs interact very [casually], sitting back and joking the whole time. It was not at all what I would have expected," said McDaniel.

Also not expected were the bombings inside London's subway system. Known world-wide as a major mode of transit for Britons, it now stands as the biggest crime scene in English history. An eye-opening experience for the third year cavalier.

"When I woke up, and found out the attacks had just happened; and at that point, there were just rumors and we'd expect a lot more," said McDaniel.

Like others near the bombing, Katie, who was one stop away, was eager to get more information. After making sure others studying abroad were okay, she found out one friend was just turned away from riding one tube. The friend headed to another tube, but ran into a problem there as well.

"All of a sudden, she said, she was told to evacuate, and people were yelling at her 'get out of here'. She said she tried to go out one exit, and they told her 'no, no, no, go this way,' and she didn't know what was going on," explained McDaniel.

While the streets of London were filled with frantic people, and skies were filled with smoke, the reminder of September 11, 2001 to Americans, was clear.

"A few people said 'this is so surreal,' and 'it kind of feels like 9/11.' They quickly said, 'well, it's obviously a much smaller scale,' and it is; you can't really compare the two, but in a way, it's the same kind of feeling," said McDaniel.

Katie along with the other students studying at Regents College in London made it home safely late Friday afternoon. The biggest problem with their trip home was sleeping overnight at Heathrow Airport.

Katie stayed in touch with her mother, who lives in Richmond, through email all morning on Thursday.

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