Statue of Liberty threat makes for a vacation one metro couple won’t forget

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STILWELL, Kan. -- A threat to blow up the Statue of Liberty last Friday made national headlines, and also shook one vacationing family from the metro.

The family from Stilwell is now back home in Johnson County, and telling its story exclusively to FOX 4 News.

Roger and Peggy Bernard say it was a vacation they'll never forget. The retired couple from Stilwell has just returned from New York City, having taken their grandkids on an adventure to see the Statue of Liberty.

The Bernards were inside the statue when news of a bomb scare began to spread throughout the crowd. Peggy Bernard says the four of them – including two grandchildren -- were making their way up one of the statue's narrow staircases, when a commotion began to take place.

NYPD officers and park police began to evacuate 500 people from Liberty Island, after someone called 911, saying they left a bomb at the landmark in New York harbor. A bomb-sniffing dog even detected something unusual during a search.

“Security, in a loud voice, said, ‘We need you all to leave immediately’,” Peggy Bernard recalled.

The Bernards began text messaging with family members, including some here in the metro, who informed them of what was going on.

“My daughter-in-law, Kati, was on CBS and CNN and saw the information about it,” Roger Bernard said. “We heard about what was going on with the bomb scare and the dog-sniffing explosives. They had a false positive, thank goodness.”

Roger Bernard said law enforcement acted swiftly, and, in general, park patrons kept their cool, even as evacuees sat in ferry boats for over 90 minutes.

“It was obvious it wasn't a drill by the look on their faces,” Roger Bernard said.

“We were all apprehensive, but not really scared,” Peggy Bernard said. “We just kind of wanted to know what was going on. That's all we know. We need you to leave immediately.”

The Bernards say they left New York City without any further trouble.

Peggy Bernard says the irony of the situation wasn't lost on her, after realizing the connection between New York City landmarks and terrorism, and how the events of 9-11 reshaped our world.

The Bernards returned to the metro on Sunday evening. Police officers in New York City are still investigating the bomb threat.