Couple relive Tunisia beachterror attack

A Halifax couple who survived the devastating Tunisia beach terror attack have spoken out one year after 38 tourists were brutally gunned down.

Friday, 24th June 2016, 3:00 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 7:42 pm

Grandparents Bernadette and Richard Paciukanis, from Boothtown, Halifax, were sunbathing just yards away from where Seifeddine Rezgui struck on the Sousse beach.

The couple, who were staying at the Imperial Marhaba hotel in the resort, had to run for their lives as the armed attacker fired shots at holidaymakers on what was Mrs Paciukanis’ 57th birthday.

As the couple fled from the barbaric attack, they separated and had to hide as the scene unfolded with neither knowing if the other was safe.

After narrowly escaping the gunfire, Mrs Paciukanis took refuge by hiding in a room in the hotel.

One year on, the pain is still raw for the grandmother-of-three, who says she is plagued with nightmares about the attack.

“I had a feeling he was going to come into the room and shoot. I didn’t want it to hurt,” said Mrs Paciukanis, a sales advisor at Halifax Argos.

“It’s very upsetting as you try to get your head around what happened and I’ve been having violent nightmares. It’s surreal, but you have to get on with life.

“It could have been so much worse and looking back it really upsets me. When you look back, you don’t think something like that could happen. You don’t think it could happen at all.

“I had booked to go away to to Poland in November then the Paris attacks happened and I just couldn’t go, I just didn’t turn up.

“I’m very jumpy and always listening out for bangs. If I can see where they are coming from I’m fine, but I don’t feel like I’m back to normality.”

Mr Paciukanis found refuge in a nearby spa and spoke of his horror of seeing “dead bodies, covered in towels and blood splattered all over the floor”.

“It was horrible to see him moving from side to side, shooting indiscriminately,” said Mr Paciukanis, 60, an engineer at Halifax Rack and Screw Cutting Company in Brighouse.

“It was very frightening, not knowing where Bernie was and I was just delighted to see her after. There’s always the thoughts in my head of what could have happened.

“It will be with me for the rest of my life, but you just have to get on with it and carry on,” he added.

In April, the couple joined Prince Harry and loved ones of Britons killed in the attack at a special memorial service at Westminster Abbey.

It’s thought a memorial service will also be held at the Imperial Marhaba resort in Tunisia on Sunday, June 26 to mark the anniversary.