TEN years after being credited with saving the lives of at least six people in the terrorist bombing of a Bali nightclub, Ballarat man David Ure remains very much the reluctant hero.
The hero tag does not sit comfortably with the Ballarat car salesman, but it is the only tag that can best describe the brave actions of Mr Ure on October 12, 2002, the night 202 people lost their lives in the bombings of Paddy’s Bar and the Sari Club in the heart of Kuta.
If it wasn’t for the cool head of the then 22-year-old, at least six people, including his then girlfriend Jessica O’Grady, may have also perished on the dance floor of the popular Bali nightclub.
Reflecting on what happened that night a decade ago, Mr Ure said: “I had to do something. I couldn’t just stand back and do nothing ... it would have been on my conscience forever”.
Then a manager at Bakery Hill McDonald’s, Mr Ure helped pull strangers from the wreckage of the Sari Club and led about six people out of the nightclub and into safety.
He and Ms O’Grady were blown off their feet after the second blast at the front of the Sari Club. As roofing debris was crashing around them, Mr Ure showed incredible bravery to lead complete strangers through a safe exit and over a brick wall to safety, escaping down an adjacent lane way.
Mr Ure credits his training at McDonald’s for helping him keep a cool head in the crisis. He said part of his training at the fast food restaurant included “if you see something happening you stand back, have a good look at everything, see what’s going on and then work out what you are going to do”.
Despite being only metres from the blast, Mr Ure escaped with only scratches and bruises, but the memory of that harrowing night will be forever etched in his brain.
He believes their position on the dance floor of the popular night spot was one of the factors in saving their lives. The edge of the dance floor where the couple was dancing, offered one of the best escape routes from the blast and resulting fire.
But, he also believes there was an angel on his shoulder looking out for him. “I’ve seen satellite images of the Sari Club site and the only cool spot was on that particular part of the dance floor where we were standing. I really have no idea how I got out.”
The 2002 bombings have not deterred Mr Ure from returning to Bali. He has been back to the Indonesian holiday destination four times since the tragedy at the Sari Club – once for the first anniversary of the bombings, once during the trial of accused bomber Amrozi bin Nurhasyim. Mr Ure then returned to hear the death sentence handed down for Amrozi, dubbed the “smiling bomber” due to his demeanour during the trial.
The last time he returned to Bali was for a happier occasion, a long overdue holiday. And each time he has returned to Bali, a visit to the Bali bombing memorial in Kuta is a must.
“Going back for the first anniversary was the hardest, but, fortunately, I had my mum and dad and my sister with me,” Mr Ure said.
Asked whether he believed attending the first anniversary of the bombings and being present during the trials of those responsible brought him closure, Mr Ure answered: “I don’t believe in that word closure, because it never really leaves you.” Being at the trial and sentencing of Amrozi was cathartic for Mr Ure, because he was able to witness justice being done, “to some point”.
Memories of the fateful day in Bali once haunted Mr Ure on almost a daily basis. Mentally, it has been a long road to recovery for Mr Ure, and while his scratches and bruises have disappeared, the emotional scars remained with Mr Ure for many years.
“After it first happened, I thought about it regularly. Now it’s really around the anniversary time that I think about it,” he said.
Mr Ure believes surviving the Bali bombings has made him a different person, someone who appreciates what life has to offer. He doesn’t take what he has for granted and realises there is more to life than pockets full of money.
Three years after the bombings, Mr Ure quit his job, sold his house and began travelling the world. Since then he has travelled to 49 countries. His next overseas journey will be to Europe in February next year to enjoy his honeymoon with Jess Allan, his girlfriend for the last six years.
Mr Ure credits Ms Allan, his close family and friends with helping him deal with the emotional pain as a result of the 2002 bombings. This week, on the 10th anniversary of the Bali bombings, Mr Ure will get together with those same people for a quiet drink and reflect on the past 10 years.