Welsh Student Tells How He Escaped Virginia Tech Massacre
South Wales student Carl Wakely told today how he missed America’s university massacre…thanks to an e-mail. The relieved Cardiff-born golfer only had two and a half weeks left at Virginia’s Tech University before Monday’s tragedy unfolded on his campus.
Now he says he never wants to sit in another lecture in the fateful Norris block, where crazed gunman Cho Seung-Hui murdered 30 students and lecturers. The Whitchurch-born student, who is off to Florida next month to play on a pro golf tour, was on his way to a 10.10am lecture in the block next door to the Norris building when he was told not to go near the campus because a fellow student could hear gun shots down there.
Within minutes he saw that 32 of his peers had been gunned down. The 22-year-old fourth year student said: ‘I was running a bit late but I checked my e-mails as I was on my way out and I had an instant message telling me not to go near the campus because someone could hear shots.
‘I thought it sounded ridiculous but I turned on the TV and it was on the news. It was hard to believe that the buildings I knew so well were being beamed around the world for something so terrible. Everyone was stunned. The whole place was so quiet. I know some people tried to get in for a closer look but they got chased back by police. But most people have just stayed indoors. It is a bit scary.’
The Cardiff City fan, who studies history and geography at the Virginia-based university, says there is a horrible atmosphere around the campus and that he is looking forward to moving down to Florida. He said: ‘This is a sleepy town but we have had two bomb threats in the last few weeks.
‘But nobody has really taken them seriously because we are coming to the end of the semester and we guessed it was people trying to get out of class. Nobody imagined anything like this could happen here.’
Carl, the reigning Welsh amateur golf champion, had less than three weeks left in the university, but says that will be delayed by the tragedy. He said: ‘We will not have any more classes this week. To be honest I am relieved my time here is coming to an end now.
‘I just want to do my final exams and get out. I could not have another lecture in the classes where people have been shot. I have been in there so many times and it is hard to picture what has gone on in there.
‘At the moment the whole area is surrounded by police and media. It is terrible. I have tried to speak to as many people at home as I can just to let them know I am all right. I have also spoken to my friends here to check they are OK. I don’t know anyone who was killed, but a few friends of friends have been. It is just unbelievable.’
Mr Wakely, whose family and friends still live in Whitchurch, Cardiff, says he is coming back to Wales in September. ‘I am looking forward to coming back and seeing everyone,’ said the former Whitchurch High School student. ‘Hopefully I will have made my mark on the Florida golf circuit by then.
‘I still keep up with City’s results and the rugby on the internet and I hope to get to Ninian Park when I come back. Also, one day, I want to come back and play on the European scene and I would love to play at the Ryder Cup when it comes to Newport.’