‘Every moment is a miracle, every moment is in agony'

Survivor of Jerusalem forest terrorist attack Kay Wilson shares what it was like to face the men who turned her life into a nightmare.

Forest 521 (photo credit: Yehoshua Halevi)
Forest 521
(photo credit: Yehoshua Halevi)
“I have been waiting for this for nine months,” said Kay Wilson, who survived a terrorist attack in the Jerusalem forest that killed her friend Kristine Luken, after the first day of the trial of two of the main suspects in the attack in the Jerusalem District Court on Sunday.
“It was hard to impart what I felt, I wasn’t afraid, I was disgusted,” Wilson said after the trial.
“There were feelings of revulsion and bewilderment, and I was just confounded with how low the human soul can sink.”
Though Israel is no stranger to trials of terrorists suspected of heinous crimes, Wilson bravely shared with The Jerusalem Post what it was like to publicly face the men who turned her life into a nightmare on a clear December day last year.
Trial begins for killers of hiker Kristine Luken
Despite assurances from the judges that she did not need to testify, Wilson insisted on giving testimony in front of the defendants, and in front of Dean Luken, Kristine’s brother, who flew in from Texas.
“This is part of [Dean Luken’s] healing and part of my healing and this is my right,” Wilson told the judges.
“In order to progress after such a pigu’a [terrorist attack], you have to have a sense of justice, that justice will be done, not vengeance, justice,” she told the Post after the first day of the trial. “Now we’re in a judicial system, and God, I can only hope that they will do justice.
“You have to name something for all its evil so that justice can be carried out,” she added.
In the nine months since the vicious attack near Beit Shemesh that killed her friend and left her wounded, Wilson has been through extensive trauma therapy and is still struggling with survivor’s guilt, she said. Facing her two attackers in court was not easy, she added.
“If I survived such a horrendous pigu’a, I think I can survive being in the same room with them when they’re bound and chained,” she said, adding that she saw no remorse from the defendants, and felt like she was looking at an empty shell with no soul.
The life of a recovering terror survivor is a precarious balance, Wilson explained. “I’ve learned to live life, there’s no point in me worrying about what’s going to happen in the next few minutes because I have no guarantee that the sun is going to rise tomorrow,” she said.
“I’ve learned to take each moment in its time. I’ve been through hell. But waking up every morning with this ghastly reality has been better than not waking up at all,” she said.
“I live with this dichotomy of every moment being a miracle and every moment being in agony but I choose life because death is so unnatural,” said Wilson. She added that she found solace in the Austrian psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl’s mandate, that if you have meaning in your suffering you can get through anything.
The defendants have confessed to the crime and the forensic evidence means the case has already been effectively closed, and the men will most likely face life in prison for their role in violent acts dating back to 2009, including another murder, two attempted murders and at least one rape, among other incidents.
But Wilson, with the help of a community of friends in Israel, where she has made her home for the past 20 years after making aliya from Britain two days before the Scuds started falling, is trying to move on as best she can.
“People ask me, where was God during all this?” said Wilson, who has maintained her deep spirituality throughout the ordeal. “We have to hold that life’s intention is that God is good and bad things happen. Even when I was listening to Kristine dying, I saw God in the blue sky above me and heard God in the birds and even felt God in the blood in my mouth, and I felt God in the arms of the paramedic. God didn’t do this, people did this, people without God,” she said. “What I want to know now is why, or better, how? How do I incorporate this into my daily life? How do people like [the defendants] get into that situation?” she asked.
Wilson’s friends credit her “street smarts” for her survival immediately after the attack, and her wide circle of friends is still amazed by her courage and pluckiness.
At the conclusion of the trial, as the two defendants were being led out of the courtroom, Wilson looked straight at them and yelled, “Am Yisrael Chai!” [The Nation of Israel Lives!] her voice quaking and breaking. And then she said again, this time her voice strong, “Am Yisrael Chai!”