Dermott Brereton is very fortunate not to be another tragic victim of the Bali bombings.
On the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attack on the Indonesian island, Brereton has recounted the sliding door moment that saved his and his friends’ lives.
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Brereton was in Bali with his AFL teammates on an off-season trip when the bombing took place.
They had been with “20 or 30 AFL players” at Sari Nightclub the night before the bombing – by far their busiest bar on the island.
The group was due to fly home the following night, so they had to say goodbye to an American friend they met during the vacation.
“In the past few days we had met a girl and her name was Karri Casner, she was from Kentucky and I noticed that she had a turquoise ring,” Brereton told Triple M on Wednesday.
“I was going through a kind of hippie phase and I said to her, ‘Look at that, I have a turquoise necklace,’ as we were on our way to the airport.”
They were saying goodbye to Karri when the temptation to keep a tradition alive almost made them stay a little longer.
“We used to have one last drink at the Sari Club on the way home,” Brereton said.
“There were six of us in the van, Karri jumped out and went to the Sari Club and we said, ‘Come on, let’s have our last drink,’ and one of our buddies said, ‘No, we’re going to be late for the plane.'”
As Brereton and the others pushed back, their friend talked them out of it.
“One of the guys said, ‘Well, I’m going to the airport. I’ll leave your bags on the sidewalk at the airport and you need to find your bags. If they’re gone, it’s up to you. So we said ‘Oh you bastard’ (and stayed in the van),” Brereton said.
“Anyway, we were driving about 400m down the road and the bags were piled in the back of our (van) and we heard this almighty ‘boom’. We literally ducked and said, “What the hell is that?” Everything that should have been visible was gone within three or four seconds. Some of us said, “That sounds like an explosion! Tube? gas work? What do you think?’.”
Unsure what had just happened but wasting no time, Brereton and his buddies drove on and arrived at the airport.
“It was back when you were at the airport literally 45 minutes before the plane took off and everything was taken away,” he recalls.
“And people started coming in covered in blood, and we said, ‘No, no, no, that can’t be right — nobody would bomb Bali, nobody would do that.’
“We landed in Melbourne and we were like, ‘What was that? What will happen?’ Well, given that there were a lot of AFL footballers — high school students go to the Gold Coast, we go to Bali, and the number one we used to go to was the Sari Club — well, I think it was, in In a way, targeted for that reason it would have garnered more notoriety.
“Some of my buddies, some of my opponents who I know really well were there.
“One of them, apparently the air between the blast and you is compressed and he was thrown back 10-15 meters without being hit by shrapnel. But from what he’s seen, his life has never been the same, and much of his life has fallen apart.
“God help him, he’s a great guy but he was never quite the same.”
When they found out what had happened, Brereton and his buddies’ first thought was of their friend Karri.
“It was very sad for the young girl Karri that she exchanged email addresses with us and we were in touch but nothing came back for several days,” he said.
“And then the inbox came back, it was actually her father saying, ‘Have you seen my daughter, I can’t find her, I noticed she has this new contact.’
“We found out that the father went there and couldn’t find her and searched for days and days.
“He contacted us again several times; “Anything you can help us with?” And I said, ‘I noticed that she bought a new turquoise ring, I told her as I noticed about my necklace.’
“He told us the story, he went back, and the first stack of medical records said ‘Girl with a Turquoise Ring’. That’s how we found out (she had died).
“The next time I went back to Bali, I took my turquoise necklace and hung it on the memorial fence.
“My friends and I did an exhaustive memory search and pieced together every last minute of their day and days, wrote a story and sent it to family. They really appreciated that.”
https://7news.com.au/sport/afl/how-one-last-drink-almost-cost-dermott-brereton-and-his-friends-their-lives-in-bali-bombings-c-8524047 20th Anniversary of the Bali Bombing: How ‘one last drink’ nearly cost the lives of Dermott Brereton and friends