Monday, October 02, 2006

Kamloops man recalls horror of Air India

There was no trauma counselling for David Dewhirst as he met the families of Air India victims - night after night after night.
Dewhirst was Canada's only consul in Bombay at the time the plane was blown up, and was assigned to meet the coffin of each dead Indian resident as it was returned to Bombay Airport, place a garland on it on behalf of Canada and express condolences to the families.
"I had a bathtub full of garlands," he told KTW, "and I'd work all day, then take a taxi for the hour's drive to the airport, where I'd meet the coffins coming in.
"It was an anguishing experience.The emotional trauma was unbelievable."
"I'd give my condolences, give them a hug and then be back at work at 8 a.m."
He said he had to keep "a stiff upper lip" during the ceremonies, but would cry all the way back in the taxi. It was Dewhirst's first assignment as a Canadian consul and he was loathe to ask for relief.
"But my health failed. I lost 30 pounds so I called them and said you've got to get someone else to do it now."
When Dewhirst, a career federal civil servant, decided to return to Canada, he chose Kamloops and moved here in 1993.
01/10/06 Dale Bass/Kamloops This Week, Canada
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