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Corona del Mar Woman Hurt in Rome Terrorist Attack Returns

January 01, 1986|GARY JARLSON and JEFFREY TYLICKI | 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.

Lane Merlin of Irvine, a friend who flew to Europe to accompany Goff 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 from the glare of television lights and photographers' lights. 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 people wounded Friday when members of a terrorist 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 carried out with automatic weapons and grenades.

Goff and several members of her tour group were walking up to the Swiss Air counter at the airport when the attack occurred. Goff sustained shrapnel wounds in her leg and underwent surgery at San Pietro Hospital in Rome.

The victim is the widow of Cotton Goff, an auto dealer.

During her trip, Goff had visited London and Paris and had spent Christmas in Rome. She had planned to continue to Switzerland and Yugoslavia, but cut short her trip following Friday's terrorist attack. Earlier Monday, John J. Long, a neighbor of Goff, said he and other friends were getting the woman'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 (Merlin) 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 right away 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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