Steven Wysocki, husband of dressage rider, trainer and judge Kristi Wysocki, has returned to Colorado after narrowly escaping Islamic terrorists while working in Algeria.
Steve, who works for British Petroleum, was based at an oil plant in Northern Africa for about a week on a regularly scheduled trip when terrorists attacked the plant.
Kristi was speaking with Steve on the phone when the attack took place, and at first Steve thought it was a power outage. A quick text message alerted Kristi that all was not well.
“I had about 10 or 12 minutes of panic, and then I decided I’d better try to do something to help because I didn’t know if the outside knew that they were in trouble,” Kristi said.
After several phone calls to BP headquarters in London, friends who also work for BP, and the State Department in Washington D.C., Kristi could do little more than be patient. “I just had to sit and wait for about 48 hours after that,” she said.
Meanwhile, Steve spent those 48 hours in hiding in a separate building from the terrorists and hostages.
“The terrorists didn’t figure out they were there for a while,” Kristi explained. “Then when they did feel like [the terrorists] knew they were there, they decided to make a run for it and went out into the desert and fortunately ran into the military.”
Although Steve and several other BP employees were safely transported out of the country, four others working for BP and at least 37 hostages were killed eventually by the time Algerian special forces stormed the compound and ended the stand-off.
“It still feels very bizarre,” Kristi said. “It was a horrific experience for everyone. It’s going to be a long, long path to recovery. I can’t even imagine what they’re all feeling, to be honest, and I was intimately involved.”
Steve, who rides horses recreationally and has even completed a few dressage tests due to Kristi’s influence, doesn’t know if he’ll return to Algeria.
“We kind of get wrapped up in our little horse world and forget that it’s really playtime, and the real world is a little more intense,” said Kristi. “We need to keep it in perspective. We do tend to take ourselves a little too seriously and forget how lucky we are to be in the horse industry.
“It definitely puts things in priority. Suddenly the horse show I was supposed to go to in Florida didn’t seem very important,” she continued.
Kristi also expressed her thanks for the support she received from friends and acquaintances. “I believe in miracles now. I don’t think he should have come home,” she said.