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Friday 24 May 2019

'It went from a holiday resort to a war zone' - husband of nurse killed in Tunisia terror attack

Police officers surround a man suspected of being involved in the deadly attack on a resort in Sousse, Tunisia, in which Irishwoman Lorna Carty (inset) was killed
Police officers surround a man suspected of being involved in the deadly attack on a resort in Sousse, Tunisia, in which Irishwoman Lorna Carty (inset) was killed

Kyle Ewald

The husband of an Irish nurse killed in the Tunisia terror attack has recalled his panicked search for his wife in the chaotic aftermath of the shooting spree which claimed 38 lives.

Declan Carty spoke on the Late Late Show last night of his “worst fears” coming to life when he found the body of his wife, Lorna, on the sunbeds outside their resort after the shooting.

“It went from a holiday resort to a war zone," he said.

Mr Carty gave evidence to the Dublin Coroner’s Court earlier this week about his harrowing experience at the Imperial Marhaba Hotel at Port El Kantaoui in Sousse, Tunisia where an Islamic State gunman killed 38 victims shortly after noon on June 26, 2015.

Victim: Lorna Carty was shot dead
Victim: Lorna Carty was shot dead

The Balbradagh, Co Meath couple were married for nearly 31 years before Lorna was killed. After hearing the initial gunshots, Carty tried to ring his wife multiple times before trying to locate her on the beach, but staff prevented him from leaving the hotel until the gunfire ceased.

Mr Carty knew something was horribly wrong when he could not find his wife in reception after the attack.

“We went down to the reception area and there were people gathering there at this stage. I knew if Lorna could have been there at all she would have been there because she would have been worried about me with the heart condition I have and I knew if she was mobile at all, she would have come looking for me," he said.

“I waited maybe ten minutes or so and I just put down my head and said I’m going and I headed out for the beach.”

The loving husband told Ryan Tubridy of the confusion and panic he felt when trying to locate his wife among the mass of bodies covered by towels.

“I thought, what am I going to do here? Am I going to lift the cover off all these people?

“I went down and lifted the towel and it was Lorna and she had been shot in the chest, so she was just lying in the sun, oblivious to it all and there was a few sun beds just around blocking the area with people taking photographs, so there wasn’t even peace that you could grieve in.”

The mother-of-two was one of three Irish people who were killed in the attack.

Laurence (56) and Martina Hayes (55) from Athlone, Co Westmeath, who had previously met the Cartys on holidays, also lost their lives that day.

Victims Laurence and Martina Hayes, from Athlone, Co Westmeath

Mr Carty advised Late Late audience members to download the smartphone app, TravelWise to prevent others from experiencing tragedy similar to his. The app is designed to help Irish citizens stay safe and informed while travelling, living or working overseas.

“It just might save someone’s life,” said Carty.

Mr Carty also spoke about the importance of community during this heart-breaking time in his life: “When I arrived home I nearly didn’t recognize the place, there was lawns mowed and hedges cut and rooms swept out, such a community I’ve never seen in all my life.”

The segment concluded with Mr Carty reading a poem titled 'That Day' written by Ray Hegarty, an Irishman who also witnessed the attack.

“Run Run. Run for your life and those in your care. Our souls were scattered, everywhere,” Carty read aloud to the audience.

“That day the sunbeds, turned into deathbeds and visions of everything changed in my mind. It wasn’t nature’s fault,  it’s the fault of mankind.”

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