Previous Mount Boucherie student Sarah Beth Keeley and Gavin Sorochan were performing the night of the Manchester terrorist attack. - Photo Contributed

Living through a terrorist attack

A former Okanagan student was down the street from the Ariana Grande concert when the arena was attacked

Being close to the scene of a terrorist attack is different than seeing it unfold on the screen.

For Sarah Beth Keeley, who attended Mount Boucherie Secondary in West Kelowna, the situation was all too real when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester Arena, Monday night.

A little more than 200 yards away, Keeley and her Canadian boyfriend Gavin Sorochan were performing as part of a musical tour in the U.K., promoting their new single in an entertainment venue down the street, called Gullivers.

The bombing happened while Keeley was performing. They first thought a transformer had blown in the arena. Staff at the Gullivers venue locked the doors.

“We didn’t actually hear anything at that point,” she said, adding there was music and performances underway. Shortly thereafter, the venue went on lockdown.

Keeley and her boyfriend didn’t find out it was a suicide bombing as no one could go anywhere to get details.

“Once we learned it was a bombing we had to stay in there,” she said.

After an hour they were let outside into the streets which Keeley described as a “ghost town” aside from emergency personnel.

“There were police everywhere and you could hear sirens continuously and a couple of helicopters were circling.”

She walked to her hotel which was at the corner of the street by a barricade.

“You feel strange, you feel confused,” she said. “Everything had been shut down everywhere.”

They arrived at their hotel after learning it was a bombing at the concert. Twenty-two people lost their lives.

“There was a young couple, there were young girls with their heads down in their phones probably texting their parents and there was a lady with her face in her hands crying because she couldn’t find her daughter and you’re in the middle of this freaking out,” she said.

The situation was foreign to her, after only seeing terrorist attacks in the media from afar. The couple was worried there would be more attacks.

“Our biggest concern wasn’t really the bombing… what we were concerned about was this would be like another Paris ordeal where the gunman might’ve been mobile,” said Sorochan, as they had yet to learn it was a suicide bombing.

They stayed in Manchester for two more nights and cancelled their last show out of respect for the victims of the attack.

The pair said they haven’t had a chance to properly reflect on the incident and how they may view it could change, once they are back in Canada.

“When you’re separated from an event you can sort of take a look at it from a third person,” said Sorochan. “I know how we saw 9/11 and there was an immediate ‘Oh my god.’ When you’re in something, you have to react. Now if we come back to Canada, we may sit and say ‘I don’t know if I want to venture out again,’” he said.

“I’ve thought about my flight home out of London,” added Keeley. “I feel less relaxed going back to the airport than coming here.”

Keeley’s father and stepmother Mike and Jo Bullock live in West Kelowna and they said they weren’t aware of the situation in Manchester until after they received a text from Keeley saying she was OK.

“Immediately I thought something has happened,” said father Mike Bullock. “I’m very grateful for her doing that.”

Moving forward, Bullock said there is concern for his daughter’s safety.

“We haven’t really worried a lot about terrorism because of where she was traveling to in the past. Going forward it’s a bit of an issue for sure,” he said.

 

Contributed Previous Mount Boucherie student Sarah Beth Keeley performed down the street from the Manchester bombing on the night of the attack.

Police blocked off streets near the Manchester Arena after the bombing Monday night. The image was captured by Sarah Beth Keeley. - Photo Contributed

Just Posted

Painting her way home

Janine Gibbons talks about all she learned illustrating Haida and Tlingit story books

Haida Gwaii gets top spot in The World

It was already a nice Christmas present, but Keith Moore was really… Continue reading

McNeill fined again for illegal fishing

A local man with a long history of poaching has been convicted… Continue reading

Old Massett taps grassroots for community plan

Over coffee, kitchen tables, and community dinners, Old Massett is taking a… Continue reading

Subsea internet cable to link up Haida Gwaii

Cable to connect Haida Gwaii, Prince Rupert, Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast with mainland network

Testing the Google Arts & Culture app

Going face to face with art

Cause of Northern B.C. seaplane crash released

TSB releases report on seaplane crash during a water landing in 2016 near First Nations community

Vancouver police crack down on pop-up pot vendors

Officers raided merchants’ tables on Robson Square late Sunday

Bell Media, NFL take appeal over Super Bowl ad rules to top court

At issue is a ban on substituting American ads with Canadian ones during the game’s broadcast

Crown seeks 4.5 years jail for B.C. woman convicted of counselling tax evasion

Debbie Anderson the latest from group to face jail for teaching debunked ‘natural person’ theory

Brother of B.C. teen killed by stray bullet says the death left a void

Alfred Wong, 15, was gunned down in Vancouver while on his way home from dinner with his family

Movie filmed in Castlegar B.C. opens Friday

Hollow in the Land starring Dianna Agron will be playing in select cinemas.

Cougar window shops at Banff grocery store

An RCMP officer spots a cougar outside an Alberta grocery store

Police fear fewer fentanyl imports don’t signal the end of the overdose crisis

RCMP say it’s just as likely that criminal are getting more clever

Most Read