A twist of fate
Two men’s decades long search for information about Ballykelly bombing victims each had helped has thrown up an extraordinary coincidence – both were trying to discover the fate of the same woman.
The two men, one an army paramedic and the other a fire-fighter, spent decades in torment because they did not know what became of victims they each had courageously worked to save from the slaughter at the Droppin Well in 1982.
In a remarkable twist of fate, it has now emerged both men spent decades wondering about the fate of the same woman – who survived her injuries and later had a family thanks to their life saving efforts.
Now, a full thirty years after the horror of the Droppin Well bombing in Ballykelly, that young woman’s son is speaking out to publicly thank the two men who helped save his mother’s life.
One, the army paramedic is from Wales and the other, the fire-fighter is from Londonderry, and both had spent years plagued by nightmares about whether the young woman whom they had worked, separately, to save from the 1982 massacre went on to live or die.
The Sentinel recently told the story of Steve ‘Taffy’ Horvath, a former army paramedic who spoke of how some of his nightmares, which had been recurring for decades, were laid to rest after 25 years when he finally discovered the fate of a young woman whom he worked to save after the Droppin Well bombing.
Mr Horvath learned that the young woman he treated that night “did live” when he met a local family at a commemoration event 25 years after the massacre – something he said provided him with the closure he needed to finally put decades of anguish to rest. Mr Horvath, who still suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, said that his nightmares about that “one, specific casualty” ended when he finally learned the young woman’s fate. He didn’t reveal her name at the time.
After reading Mr Horvath’s story, a former fire fighter who had also been at the scene of the Droppin Well bombing contacted this newspaper to say that he too had been plagued by nightmares from the atrocity. Paul O’Kane from Londonderry said that he too had worked to save the life of a young woman that night, and that he too had been troubled because he had yet to discover whether she had lived or died.
Mr O’Kane, who holds an MBE for his charity work, appealed through this newspaper for information regarding what became of the young woman he struggled through the dangerous rubble to rescue.
In an extraordinary twist of fate, it has emerged that the two men had spent decades wondering about the fate of the same woman – Nicola George.
It appears that Nicola was pulled from the mangled wreckage of the Droppin Well’s immense, concrete roof by Paul O’Kane, and later treated by Taffy’ Horvath. The two life-savers have yet to meet.
She survived her injuries, although she spent a great deal of time recovering from her severe wounds. Sadly, Nicola has since passed away, but she did live for a decade and a half after the horrific bombing – long enough to marry and have three children.
Her eldest son, 28-year-old Steven Lockett, from Limavady has spoken out to publicly thank the two men and to try and provide the same kind of closure to Paul O’Kane as that found by Steve ‘Taffy’ Horvath.
He said that without their heroic efforts, his mother would not have lived to have a family and he would never have been born.
Steven told the Sentinel: “I have spoken to Paul over the phone, and I just hope I was able to provide him with some closure. It turns out that my mother was also ‘worked on’, as he would put it, by Taffy. I actually know Taffy – he is one of my friends now. I want to thank him for what he did.
“I also want to publicly say thanks to Paul O’Kane for the service he did that night. He saved my mother’s life, and if he hadn’t done that I wouldn’t be here today. I hope that this might be something good from something bad – even in this small way.”
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Weather for Londonderry
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 8 C to 14 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North west
Temperature: 5 C to 12 C
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