Lockerbie bombing: The ambulance man and the bereaved mother
- 16 December 2013
- From the section Scotland
The mother of a young American student who was killed in the Lockerbie bombing 25 years ago now lives with the ambulance man who found her daughter's body on the night she died.
George White was the ambulance man on call on the 21 December 1988 when, at three minutes past seven in the evening, Pan Am flight 103 from London to New York exploded over the Scottish town of Lockerbie, killing all 259 people on board and 11 people on the ground.
Mr White told BBC Scotland the explosion was so extreme that his first thought was that the nearby Chapelcross nuclear power station had blown up.
When he got to the fire and smoke, he could not believe the scale of the disaster caused by the terrorist attack.
The town was covered with debris from the aircraft and the bodies of the passengers were scattered far and wide.
Mr White said: "I went back to the ambulance garage to get emergency blankets and equipment and that's when I found Suzanne's body right at the door."
Suzanne Miazga was a 22-year-old social work student from Syracuse University who had spent a semester in the UK.
She was the first of many bodies Mr White found that night as he assisted with the ultimately futile search for survivors.
Soon after the tragedy, he planted a rose bush in memory of the young woman whom he had found outside the garage and some months later, when he discovered her name, he added a plaque.
A friend of Suzanne's gave Mr White her mother's address and he wrote her a letter.
"He wrote a beautiful letter that said he would always take care of the spot where she fell," says Anna-Marie Miazga.
Mrs Miazga, who was recently divorced, started to travel to Lockerbie and met George White and his wife Elma, with whom she struck a friendship.
She says: "I've been there 19 times. It brings me peace.
"The people are so wonderful. I would meet people on the street and they would start crying before they would get to me.
"I guess they know from the way I dressed I was American. They were just so nice. Everybody could understand the devastation."
George retired early soon after bombing and says he still has nightmares about it, often crying out "fire" in his sleep.
"I have seen hundreds of accidents but never anything like that. It was unbelievable," he says.
After his wife died, George continued to chaperone Anna-Marie on her visits to Lockerbie.
"She kept saying 'come and visit us in America'," says George.
"But there was no way I would get on a plane, I did not want to fly at all."
However, in 2005 he conquered his fear of flying to visit Anna-Marie. He began to travel regularly on a three-month visa before getting a green card for US residency last year.
He says: "After a while we would meet and I would give her a wee kiss. That was all, we kissed. I realised there was something more than a casual friendship.
"I remember on the train from Lockerbie to Glasgow saying 'I'm not making a pass Anna-Marie but if there was anyone going to take Elma's place, it would have to be you'."
Anna-Marie says: "We've gone through this whole thing together.
"He knows how I feel about Elma's death and he is with me for Suzanne.
"He goes to her grave and kisses her stone. He's very compassionate."
George says: "It was meant to be. The very fact that Suzanne fell right at my garage door. It must have meant something."
Living With Lockerbie will be broadcast on Monday 16 December at 22:35 GMT on BBC Scotland and on Saturday 21 December at 09:10 GMT on BBC World News. The programme will be available on the iPlayer.