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Airport Terrorist Victim Flies Home

January 01, 1986|JEFFREY TYLICKI and GARY JARLSON | Times Staff Writers

A 78-year-old Corona del Mar woman injured during last week's bloody terrorist attack at the Rome airport returned home Tuesday evening.

Katherine S. (Kay) Goff arrived about 9 p.m. at Los Angeles International Airport, 18 hours after she had departed from Leonardo da Vinci Airport in the Italian capital.

"I'm very glad to be home," she said in a brief press conference at the airport.

'Leg Swollen'

Lane Merlin of Irvine, a friend who flew to Europe to accompany the woman back to the United States, said, "Her leg is swollen. She just wants to get home."

As she rode in a wheelchair from the plane to a limousine waiting to take her home, Goff held a magazine in front of her face as a shield against the glare of television lights and photographers' flashbulbs. Merlin told the press that Goff's "spirits now are good."

Goff, who had been on a month-long holiday tour in Europe, was among 121 persons who were wounded Friday when members of a radical Palestinian group attacked the check-in counters of El Al, the Israeli national airline, at airports in Rome and Vienna.

Eighteen people, including five Americans, were killed in the assaults, which were carried out with automatic weapons and grenades.

Goff and several members of her tour group were walking up to the Swissair counter at the airport when the attack began. She suffered shrapnel wounds in her leg and underwent surgery at San Pietro Hospital in Rome.

Goff, the widow of Southern California auto dealer Cotton Goff, said of the attack: "It happened so fast; I didn't know what was happening. I just fell."

She said she lay on the floor for about 20 minutes before anyone came to her aid.

Asked about the condition of her leg, she said, "I don't know how long it will take to heal, because all the doctors spoke Italian."

Visit Cut Short

During her trip, Goff had visited London and Paris and had spent Christmas in Rome. She had planned to continue on to Switzerland and Yugoslavia but cut short her trip following Friday's attack.

Goff had been scheduled to arrive in Los Angeles at 6:50 p.m. on a flight that made one stop in New York City. However, labor problems in Rome delayed her departure from Italy, and she had a 2 1/2-hour layover on the East Coast before making her Los Angeles connection.

Earlier Monday, John J. Long, a neighbor on Bayside Drive, said he and other friends were getting Goff's house ready for her return.

"She's a very nice lady, but she has gone through a lot," Long said. "We don't really know the full extent of her injuries. Lane told my wife Monday that she couldn't stand on her leg when she got out of bed.

"Obviously, it is very painful for her, and she is being moved in a wheelchair because she is pretty much immobilized. When she gets here, we'll just have to find out. She might have to go into the hospital when she gets home," he said.

"You know, the papers said she was 78, but she thinks and acts like a much younger person," Long said. "She has no family, no children. There's just us and several others like us."

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