EXCLUSIVE: Va. Tech Survivors Remember, Speak Out

Four months after massacre, surviving students struggle to move on.

ByABC News via GMA logo
January 8, 2009, 1:15 AM

Aug. 20, 2007 — -- When Sean McQuade smiles, only the right side of his face moves. When Lily Habtu eats, she can only use two teeth in her mouth to chew her food. And when left-handed Katelyn Carney signs her name, she has to scratch out her signature with her right hand because she can't quite straighten the fingers on her left.

These are the survivors of the Virginia Tech shooting, and four months after the attack, they are slowly making their way back to the livesthey had before they were injured.

"I just want this to be done," said Habtu, who is still waiting for her wounds to heal before doctors can begin to fix her injured jaw. "I just really want to get the surgeries and return my life back as close as possible to where I was before."

This week, as students return to the campus to start the new year, McQuade, Habtu, Carney and five other survivors sat down with ABC News to talk about what happened to them that day and how they have been working to recover ever since.

On the morning of April 16, Kevin Sterne headed to German class just like he did every Monday. Though it was colder than usual and a lightsnow fell on the campus as he walked to Norris Hall, he had no reason to believe that it would be anything but an ordinary day. "It was amorning just like any other morning," he said, shaking his head.

As Sterne took a seat in Room 207, next door in Room 211, Colin Goddard and Kristina Heeger prepared to begin their intermediateFrench class. Around 9:40 a.m., they all heard noises down the hall that sounded like someone hammering, but they assumed it was workbeing done on a new construction site on campus.

But the noises continued, and concern grew. "Even my teacher was, like, 'That can't be gunshots, can it?'" Sterne said.

The French teacher also became nervous. "We were reassuring the teacher that, 'No, it's just a nail gun or a hammer,'" said Goddard. "Then, we heard it again, and it was louder, and it was closer, and her face dropped. She poked her head out for a split second, pulled it back in,said 'Call 911, get on the floor' and he was in the room seconds after that."