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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Interview With Memrie Wells Creswell

Aired June 2, 2003 - 20:04   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Now we'll bring in some people with very personal connections to the bombings that are blamed on Eric Rudolph, according to the government. Five people were hurt when a device packed with nails exploded at the Otherside Lounge in Atlanta, Georgia, six years ago.
One of the injured, Memrie Wells Creswell. She joins us tonight. But as she tells us, her problems didn't stop there. Memrie Creswell joins us from Atlanta at the CNN Center.

Memrie, thank you for being with us.

MEMRIE WELLS CRESWELL, BOMBING VICTIM: Thank you, Anderson.

COOPER: You were at the Otherside Lounge. It was February 21, 1997. You were celebrating a friend's birthday party, sitting at a table. What happened?

CRESWELL: Right. I just remember turning around, and a friend of mine had called me, and I turned around to see what she wanted, and when I did, the bomb blast went off. And the next thing I knew, there was chaos, and I felt numbness in my legs and felt sweaty and cold all at the same time. And realized that my arm was spewing blood.

And from there, I became weak and had lost a lot of blood. And I had a paramedic that was a paramedic team that was already there that was just there having drinks at the bar. And they tied a purse strap around my arm to stop the bleeding until the paramedics got there.

COOPER: Unbelievable. Now, did you -- I mean -- you said it was pandemonium. Did you realize it was a bomb? Did you think it was a firecracker? What did you think was going on?

CRESWELL: No. At first I thought I had been shot. I thought that people had shot guns in the place, or had done a drive-by shooting or something. I really wasn't sure right at first.

And then once -- and I really didn't have time to think about it right at first, until, you know, once everything kind of died down and I had gotten out of surgery, and really had a time to really process what had happened, I then realized that it was -- and saw the news footage that it was a bomb indeed.

COOPER: Now, it took you about a month to recover, as I understand, and you returned to work, and the nightmare, I mean, doesn't end with the bombing. You returned to work, then what happened to you?

CRESWELL: Several months later, I was let go from my job, and I firmly believe that it was due to the fact I was at a gay nightclub, and, you know, went there with a friend, and was tagged as being a homosexual because of where I was. And suddenly the company needs to restructure.

COOPER: And, I mean, did they say that to you? That just the impression you got?

CRESWELL: Yes.

COOPER: So what are you doing today? And how -- I mean, how has this changed your life? Obviously, you know, you left that job. But this got to be the kind of thing you think about all the time.

CRESWELL: Oh, my gosh, yes. And it's actually sort of tapered off now. Until recently, when I saw that he had been captured, my emotions had been much more tapered off. And I had -- during the time -- It's been a long journey for me. I've dealt with a lot of anger issues because of this.

I've dealt with a lot of emotions, depression, things like that, because of the idea that there is someone out there that hates people as much as Eric Robert Rudolph does, and that he takes his passion for the cause so seriously that he would hurt other people and kill other people. I just -- I'm astounded by that.

COOPER: You were working at the time for a real estate publisher. What are you doing today?

CRESWELL: I'm a real estate agent in -- for Coldwell Banker in Sandy Springs in Atlanta.

COOPER: If Eric Rudolph is the bomber, what do you to want to see happen to him?

CRESWELL: I just want to make sure that he stays behind bars forever. I don't want him to ever have a life sentence and get out in, you know, 15 to 20 years. I want to make sure that because of his passion and because of his furor, I want to make sure that he stays behind bars. And if he gets the death penalty, that's OK too. I just -- I feel a little conflicted about the death penalty, but for sure, I want to make sure he stays in jail.

COOPER: Memrie Wells Creswell, we really appreciate you joining us tonight. I'm sorry you've gone through these experiences...

CRESWELL: Thank you.

COOPER: ... but we appreciate you sharing them with us tonight. Thank you very much.

CRESWELL: Thank you.

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