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Ed Smart Reflects Back on Past Year

Ed Smart Reflects Back on Past Year

Posted - Jun. 4, 2003 at 4:48 p.m.



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Sammy Linebaugh reporting One year ago tomorrow, Elizabeth Smart was snatched from her bedroom. Today her father offered a look back on his family's ordeal.

This morning, on the Today Show, he talked with NBC's Katie Couric about the long road. The excruciating nine months it took to see her safely returned.

In particular, he talked about the threats made to Elizabeth by her alleged captors -- and her belief that her life, and the life of her family was continually in danger.

Ed Smart: "THAT FIRST NIGHT, SHE'S TOLD ME, SHE NEVER THOUGHT SHE'D BE COMING BACK TO US AGAIN, AND FOR NINE MONTHS EVERYTHING WENT THE WAY BRIAN MITCHELL WANTED IT TO GO. AND I AM OVERWHELMED AT THE STRENGTH OR HELP SHE RECEIVED TO MANAGE TO SURVIVE THROUGH IT ALL."

Ed Smart said his daughter's doing well and has decided on a high school.

Tomorrow, he says, the family plans to go do something fun.

In the neighborhood, the anniversary is certainly top of mind.

A year ago Thursday, Ed Smart stood on the lawn of what was at the time, the search command center, pleading with Elizabeth's captor to bring her home.

Today he talked about the dark days of this past winter, when he said "it was like the world started moving again, but we didn't."

To an extent, he's speaking for this entire neighborhood.

Life never was back to normal here -- and wouldn't be, until one spring afternoon...when Elizabeth was back.

Just about everybody here in the Smart's neighborhood has a story about the moment they learned Elizabeth was missing. Dozens got the call before sunrise to help search. Hundreds more spent weeks at a makeshift command center, chasing leads, and helping coordinate the efforts of thousands of volunteers.

Jobs, vacations, wedding parties were put on hold.

Life, as this close knit neighborhood knew it, had changed forever.

Ted Wilson, Smart's Neighbor: "IT GOT TO ALL OF OUR FEELINGS ABOUT LOSING A CHILD."

Former Salt Lake City Mayor Ted Wilson lives nearby the Smarts. But on that day, June 5th, he and his wife were on the road, driving home from Seattle. They heard the news on the radio, and within minutes, had a plan.

Ted Wilson: "LIKE A LOT OF OTHER PEOPLE THAT DAY, WE FOUND A WAY WE COULD HELP. WE HAD OUT DAUGHTER E-MAIL A FLYER AND WE HAD A BUNCH PRINTED UP."

From there, Wilson and his wife split up...hitting gas stations, truck stops...alerting anyone who would listen.

Ted Wilson: "THE GUYS AT OFFICE MAX HELPED ME UNLOAD MY MOTORCYCLE OFF THE TRUCK. KATHY TOOK THE TRUCK AND THE FLYERS AND WENT DOWN INTERSTATE 84, AND I WENT OVER ON I-90 OVER TO POCATELLO AND WORKED THAT ROUTE SO WE WORKED TWO ROUTES COMING IN TO SALT LAKE"

As it turns out, Elizabeth and her alleged abductors hadn't fled for the highways. They were right here, only a few miles from Elizabeth's home.

For so many, who spent last summer scouring these hills, like Wilson, so close, and yet not knowing it.

Ted Wilson: "I MUST HAVE WALKED WITHIN 50 YARDS OF HER.."

There are feelings of frustration, guilt and second guessing, and wondering what might have been.

But more than anything, now, there is joy in this neighborhood. Gratitude for what seems like a remarkable gift.

Elizabeth is back where she belongs.

Ted Wilson: "I THOUGHT A YEAR LATER WE'D BE HAVING A TERRIBLE MOURNING DAY. INSTEAD WE HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY."

The Smarts say they are not planning to make any public appearances tomorrow.

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