Uganda Bombing Victims Stayed Behind to Help: 'People Died Around Her, That's All She Would Say'

Five Americans hurt in Uganda terror attack were supposed to return last week.

ByABC News
July 12, 2010, 12:31 PM

KAMPALA, UGANDA, July 13, 2010— -- She should have been home a week before, but on Sunday, American teenager Emily Kerstetter sat in an airy Ugandan restaurant, talking with her church group about how much she wanted to stay in the African nation she'd grown to love for the rest of the summer. Suddenly, her cheery daydream was shattered by a deafening blast.

Within seconds, dozens of people lay dead around her and Emily -- along with four other Americans, including her grandmother and two other teens -- lay bloody and bewildered. Twin terror attacks had ripped through the Ugandan capitol of Kampala, targeting World Cup revelers and claiming 76 lives.

Now the Americans are in hospitals from Kenya to South Africa, receiving emergency medical treatment and struggling to cope with the nightmare of what they witnessed -- all because they had been inspired by their work in the country, and made a last-minute decision to extend their stay, friends and family told ABC News today.

"I think they were offered the opportunity to work in the hospitals," Nikki Liskovec, a family friend of Kerstetter's, told ABC News. "She just enjoyed working with the kids and feeling like she's making a difference... You can tell she's in the world she's meant to be in."

Emily's injuries were so severe, doctors at a local public hospital feared they would have to amputate her foot, according to Dr. Ian Clarke, chairman of the International Medical Group in Kampala. Instead, she was evacuated to South Africa where hospitals are better equipped to deal with her traumatic injuries. Emily's grandmother -- who suffered relatively minor injuries to her arm -- was also flown to South Africa. Both are expected to recover.

Thomas Kramer, 14, told his father Scott Kramer he wanted to stick around as well, rather than return with nine other members of the church group on July 9. His mother, Pam, wouldn't think of leaving the boy behind, Scott said.

"My son wanted to stay because he plays the guitar and -- along with Kris Sledge [who was also injured] -- they help with worship," Scott said. "They called and asked me if they could stay."

Thomas and Pam were both injured and are being treated in a hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.

Four days after the rest of the church group returned home, the twin terror bombs exploded in Uganda. An American who was not part of the church group, 25-year-old Nate Henn, was among those killed.