March 3, 1998 in Nation/World

Surrender, Victim Tells Bomber Nurse Who Was Maimed In Clinic Bombing Tells Fugitive His Action Changes Nothing

Jay Reeves Associated Press

A tear streamed down Emily Lyons’ scarred right cheek from her remaining eye, closed tightly against the bright lights. She held up her right hand, mangled and red.

Four weeks after nearly dying in an abortion clinic bombing that killed an off-duty police officer, Lyons quietly posed a question for the bomber whose homemade handiwork ripped apart her body.

“What were you thinking?” Lyons, a clinic nurse, said from her wheelchair Monday. “Did you really feel that this would change something?”

Without pausing, she provided her own answer.

“The clinics will continue to stay open, the employees will continue to work, the patients will continue to come,” she said. “I want everyone to know - this person survives.”

The 41-year-old woman spoke publicly about the bombing for the first time Monday, talking to a room filled with reporters and cameras at the hospital where she has been recovering since the explosion Jan. 29.

A bomb filled with nails exploded as she and Officer Robert Sanderson, who moonlighted as a security guard, arrived for work that day, sending shrapnel into her body and killing him. Lyons was rushed to nearby University Hospital, where a string of operations saved her life.

Her left eye gone and her right eye only able to detect light, Lyons said the hardest part of her ordeal has been not seeing her husband, children and the people caring for her.

The worst physical pain is from her left leg, held together by steel rods after being ripped apart by the nails. She’s already walking a few feet at a time with the help of a therapist and a walker, and doctors say that within a year, “I should be back to running, jumping, doing whatever I please,” she said.

Authorities are still trying to find Eric Robert Rudolph, the 31-year-old North Carolina man charged in the bombing. Lyons said Rudolph should surrender and end the manhunt.

“I had to take the consequences of what he did. He should step forward and take the consequences if he did it,” she said.

Lyons last week began physical therapy that includes weight lifting and turning screws to regain her manual dexterity. She looks forward to being able to see out of her right eye.

Lyons said she and other workers at the New Woman All Women clinic were always watchful because of the threat of violence.

“You always had it in the back of your mind … but it’s not something you worried about every day,” she said.

That’s changed. Now she worries about another attack, and her family has police protection. Officers were posted throughout the hospital floor where she met with reporters.

Lyons refused to say what, if anything, she recalls about the bombing because of the ongoing investigation.

“I left home after kissing my husband good-bye,” she said. “And that’s all I can talk about.”

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