21 July, 2015

Hate Crime Stories: Dag André, survivor of Utoya massacre

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Category: hate crime, remebrance, Utoya massacre, Victims of hate crime
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dagKept his head cool

Dressed in a red T-shirt with the title «Youth Labor party member ready to fight” and with the admission bracelet from Utøya around his left wrist there is little doubt about the signal he wish to send.

 With his mother Liv Anne Anderssen on his left side, party secretary Tove Bjørkmo and Labor Party-leader in Hadsel, Ketil Johnsen on his right side, the 26 year old told quite specific and detailed how he experienced that Friday afternoon.

Dag André found himself in the main building of Utøya when the dramatic scene unfolded. Many had gathered in the main hall to get information about what had happened in the capital [Where the terrorist had detonated a bomb just a few hours earlier]. The sound of gunshots made the people gathered realize that something was about to happen. Dag André approached a window to have a look outside and then made eye contact with the perpetrator.

– He screamed to me that all should gather outside to be informed about the situation, but I responded that we didn’t want to do that.

The 26 year old then asked everyone to lie down on the floor. They lied like this until they heard the perpetrator enter from another side of the building.

– This was when I realized that we had to get out.

Dag André got two other young people to join him in fleeing, and he describes the whole situation as so unreal that he only realized the severity of the situation when they found a mortally wounded person from the Norwegian Peoples’ Aid. First then he was sure that there were no theoretical possibility that it was all an exercise.

Down by the waterfront thoughts ran through his head. Should they stay or get of the Island by swimming? He didn’t consider himself a good swimmer and the camp management had earlier warned him that if you should not swim too far out because of the cold water temperature and strong currents.

He saw a wooden box that could be used as a floating device, got it divided into two parts and gave each of the two young people who have joined him their own piece and sent them out into the water. He stayed himself, unsure if the best option would be to get to the boats at the harbour or if he should swim for it.

He decided for the latter, and with the help of another wooden box he got enough flotation means to get out into the water. The box functioned also as hiding device when the perpetrator later came down to the waterfront and shot into the water.

Dag André tells slowly about how he did considerations as he went. About how he planned to hide behind the box as not to be seen by the perpetrator, and about how he considered his chances of getting over to the boat which after a while had been filled with fleeing youth and gotten so far from the shore that the perpetrators bullets didn’t reach with their deathly consequence.

The perpetrator didn’t discover Dag André in the water, and after a while proceeded to pursue new targets.

This made it possible for Dag André to get the attention of another young person hiding by the shoreline and together they rescued themselves with the wooden box as flotation means. Just after the shooting started in Bolsjevika and all who had hidden themselves there.

After a while they heard boat engines being ignited on the other side of the fjord.

– I though that if these are good people, we will be saved. The thought of them not being good people was there, but now the emergency vehicle lightning on the other side of the fjord were so many that I realized that these were truly emergency rescue crew that had come to rescue us.

In the end they were picked up by one of the boats and taken to shore on the other side. There he quickly found those two young people he got sent over earlier in safety.

First published in vol.no the 27th of July 2011. Dag André was 26 years old when the massacre at Utøya happened the 22nd of July 2011. He had a word exchange with the terrorist at the island and helped two people to flee over the water, before rescuing himself clinging to a wooden box, swimming across the lake. He is currently vice-chair of the Support Group. One hour interview five days after the attack with Dag André Anderssen: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=va1VXqu4NN0

First time published in Vesterålen online, translated by Eirik Rise with permission from the interviewed person. http://www.vol.no/nyheter/article473062.ece


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