Alaskan among the missing after Bali attack

Posted: Wednesday, October 23, 2002

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- A woman who grew up in Eagle River is missing and feared killed in the bomb attack at a Bali nightclub nearly two weeks ago.

Megan Heffernan, 29, a college teacher in South Korea, joined four friends on a quick four-day vacation at Bali's Kuta Beach the weekend of Oct. 12, her mother said Tuesday. They went scuba diving during the day that Saturday. Then the two men in the group went back to their hotel rooms. Heffernan and two girlfriends went shopping at about 11 p.m. Saturday.

Just before midnight, a car bomb exploded between a disco and a pub, igniting gas cylinders and setting off a blast that ravaged a dozen buildings.

The body of one woman in Heffernan's group was identified by the dead woman's husband at the scene. The other two haven't been accounted for.

Heffernan's mother, Sandra MacKenzie, lives in Eagle River. She is still waiting for definitive word. Heffernan's father sent her dental records from his home in Florida to help authorities struggling to identify burned and mutilated bodies.

MacKenzie said she talks every day with a woman assigned to the case by the U.S. State Department. She is planning to fly to South Korea for a memorial service for her daughter, whom friends described as a free spirit and devout Christian who spent the last five years teaching English at Kyungnam College of Information and Technology in Busan.

Authorities airlifted some victims to Australia and McKenzie said there is a chance her daughter is there, too injured to speak. But that possibility is slim.

''Number one, I'm a Christian and my daughter was too. So if she's gone, I know where she is and she's safe,'' she said. ''But if she's gone, it hurts terribly.''

More than 180 people died in the blast, including at least two U.S. citizens. Hundreds more people were injured. The number of Americans killed could rise as more bodies are found, said Frederick Jones, a State Department spokesman.

''Until all the remains are identified, we may never know how many Americans were involved,'' Jones said.

Heffernan started teaching at Kyungnam College about five years ago. She traveled extensively, coming home to Alaska and Florida once a year between trips to places such as China and New Zealand.

Heffernan graduated from Chugiak High School in 1992. An honors student, she attended George Fox College, a Christian college outside Portland.

''She had a unique sense of style,'' said Katherine Heasley, a friend who graduated from the college in 1996 and lives in Anchorage. ''George Fox is rather conservative actually but she fell right in with a very artistic crowd on campus and she just kind of did her own thing.''

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