OC Surfer Testifies at Terror Bombing Trial | NBC Southern California

OC Surfer Testifies at Terror Bombing Trial

Steve Cabler testified at a mass murder trial in Jakarta

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    "I remember looking back and all I could see was the faces, looking at the fire, I'll never forget that thing, I saw faces and images," says Steve Cabler, an Orange County surfer who testified as a witness to the 2002 bombing of a tourist bar in Indonesia. Cabler’s best friend and surfing buddy died in that attack, which killed more than 200 people. NBC4's Vikki Vargas reports from Costa Mesa. (Published Friday, Jan. 30, 2015)

    For terror bombing witness Steve Cabler, a decade cannot erase memories of what happened on that day back in 2002.

    "It’s like the bomb went through and then just did some crazy thing to me," said Cabler, an Orange County surfer who returned home from Indonesia Tuesday.

    There was the concussion, the burns to his hands, the loss of his teeth and, initially, the loss of his eyesight.

    Cabler was inside the Sari Club when terrorists with apparent links to Al Qaeda bombed the popular tourist bar. The destruction went on for blocks. When it was over, 202 people were killed.

    One of them was Cabler's best friend and surfing buddy, Steven Webster.

    "I remember looking back and all I could see was the faces, looking at the fire, I'll never forget that thing, I saw faces and images," Cabler said.

    A decade later, the trial of Umar Patek began. Patek is charged with making the explosives that went off in the deadly bombing.

    The trial brought back all the painful memories for Cabler.

    "I was so close to him; I just wanted to pound him," Cabler said. "It was hard to hold back. I mean, this was the guy who caused all this misery and here I am finally coming full circle, toe to toe, eyeball to eyeball with this guy."

    Over the years, friends and doctors told Cabler he was lucky to be alive and so he made the decision to return to Indonesia as the only American who would testify in this trial.

    He traveled in an armored car, under tight security. He said it helped him to return to the memorial that now stands where the club had been.

    Even now, though, he said there are things from that night that he cannot get out of his mind. And he knows it may always be that way.

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