Hermosa Native Reflects on Norway

Willow Culbertson, a Hermosa Beach native with ties to Norway, is shocked to find calamity in the normally peaceful country.

The deadly attacks in Norway shocked many people across the world, but Willow Culbertson was paralyzed.

Her reaction came with good reason: Culbertson spent 10 years working a block away from where a large bomb exploded in Oslo on Friday.

"I used to walk through that courtyard every day on my way to work. I dropped dead in my tracks [when I heard]," she said. "My sister had to take over my waitressing duties."

From 1994 to 2005, Culbertson worked at the American Embassy in downtown Oslo after moving there with her then husband, a Norwegian national.

Culbertson, a Hermosa Beach native, moved to Media, PA after divorcing her husband and now co-owns a small restaurant with her sister, Rainy, in downtown Media.

Culbertson was stunned to hear the news of the attacks. She still has friends in Norway, some of whom she has not heard back from since the tragedy, she said.

She is worried that if some of her friends were injured, she would not know since media outlets only have lists of deaths, she said. 

"It's always lingering in the back of my mind," Culbertson said, adding that typical Norwegians don't think that crimes of that magnitude happen in Norway.

Anders Behring Breivik, a 32-year-old Norwegian, has confessed to being behind the massacre, which is the largest attack on Norwegian soil since World War II and has left many wondering whether or not Norway will modify its relatively liberal legal system and police force. 

"It's such a safe country," Culbertson said. "You just don't think about crime."

Even though the problems are half a world away, those with ties to the areas have their hearts and minds with the people of Norway.

How have you been affected by the Norway tragedy? 


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