Shona Black Harkness

Shona Black Harkness

United Kingdom
Bio: Shona Black Harkness was 21 years old on the night of the attack. As a former resident of the town, she was visiting her friend in Lockerbie to deliver Christmas presents. Shona shares her memories of the night, including finding the body of one woman who she still thinks about to this day. Shona also explains why she finds it too difficult to return to Lockerbie in December and how the bombing caused her to struggle with PTSD.
  • Survivor

Locked in Memories - A Survivor's Haunting Account of Finding a Victim "As If She Was Sleeping"

The day of the attack


Shona Black Harkness had traveled from Dumfries to Lockerbie on the evening of 21st December 1988, to visit her close friend Diane and deliver Christmas presents. Shona, along with her younger sister and niece, had arrived at Diane's house on Park Place just before 7pm. 

Shona begins her story by recalling her memories from the time of the explosion:

After the initial impact, Shona's first instinct was to ensure her younger sister and niece were both safe. She then made her way out onto the street at Park Place to try and find out what had just happened:

As Shona walked around Park Place, she found a number of bodies, as well as parts of the plane and debris. However, the body of one young woman in particular really caught her attention. 

Shona explains that she then turned her attention to checking other houses and trying to find if her friends in Lockerbie were accounted for. She recalls the confusion felt in the street, the smell from the fuel and the sense of unease about the possibility of a second attack:

Emergency services utilised the communication lines that had remained intact following the explosion. This, coupled with a widespread power outage, meant that there was no way for residents or visitors to communicate with the outside world. Shona was unable to contact her parents to let them know that their daughters and niece were safe. 

Shona did eventually make it back home to Dumfries and was reunited with her family. It was only then that she could begin to comprehend what she had just witnessed in Lockerbie:

The days following the attack


Shona watched the aftermath of the bombing on the television news reports, listened to radio bulletins and read articles in the newspapers. It took her more than 12 months before she was able to feel confident enough to return to Lockerbie. 

Long-term effects of the attack


Shona admits that the terrorist attack severely impacted her in the days, months and years that followed. Despite being in her early twenties, she almost reverted back to the mentality of a young girl once darkness fell:

Despite suffering from what would now be recognised as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Shona felt that she was offered very little help to process her feelings or address her fears.

As a result, Shona felt unable to walk outside at night time and says that the Lockerbie bombing will affect her forever:

The noise of the explosion haunts Shona to this day and if she spots two planes looking like they are in close proximity to each other in the sky, she will watch them until they have passed safely: 

A message to loved ones


Shona regularly thinks of the young woman she found lying on her side in Park Place. She was the first person to see the woman after she fell from the sky. Shona is a mother herself and says that if she ever found herself in the position of losing a child, she would take comfort from even the smallest pieces of information.

Therefore, it's Shona's hope that she can find out the identity of the woman, and pass on the following message to her loved ones:

A place to remember


Shona was delighted to find out out that there are plans in place to create a Memorial Museum at Tundergarth, where victims will be honoured, Lockerbie hometown heroes will have their stories told and visitors will be educated on the events leading up to the bombing, as well as the current status of the US criminal trial:

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