Girl Gets Back Teddy Bear Lost in Airport Shooting

10-year-old dropped special bear as family fled
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 11, 2017 12:01 AM CST
Girl Gets Back Teddy Bear Lost in Airport Shooting
Courtney Gelinas talks with the news media after being reunited with her bear Rufus, at the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport.   (Lynne Sladky)

Yards from where workers finished the cleanup from the Fort Lauderdale airport shooting, a girl was reunited Tuesday with the teddy bear she left behind while fleeing. Courtney Gelinas, 10, smiled as Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport spokesman Greg Meyer opened the trunk of his SUV to reveal Rufus, the teddy bear the Canadian fifth-grader had received from her dying grandfather a decade ago, the AP reports. When Meyer handed her Rufus, she held the bear tight. Courtney was with her parents and siblings and about to board a plane home when officials say Esteban Santiago fatally shot five people one floor below them Friday. Rufus, a brown bear dressed in a red devil costume, was left behind as the family fled onto the tarmac with hundreds of others.

"It is exciting and I am happy to have him back," the bashful girl said as she pressed against her mother's legs. Her mother said Courtney has not slept well since the shooting. She said they had been waiting to board their flight home when "a rush of people screaming for their lives came like a tsunami at us. We threw our children under our seats and we lay on top of them." The mother wept as she offered her "deepest respect and condolences to all of you who are without their grandmothers and their moms and their brothers, uncles, and aunts." The airport has returned a "substantial" portion of the 25,000 lost items left behind by fleeing passengers, including luggage, cellphones, baby strollers, and "lots of Hello Kitty backpacks," Meyer says. (Read more uplifting news stories.)

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