Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Bonds return from India


Seventy-one days after being arrested by Indian authorities for attempting to board an airplane with ammunition in their baggage, Santa Barbara residents Monica and Heather Bond came home tonight.
The two women boarded a plane yesterday in Delhi, India, said Lawrence Bond, Monica Bond’s husband, who has spent the past two months wondering if his loved ones would ever return.
“My first reaction when this call came was total disbelief,” he said during a phone interview while driving to the airport. “It’s finally happened. After hundreds of ups and downs, you think it’s never going to happen and finally it’s happened.”

The two women were given their passports back on Monday and, according to Lawrence Bond, spent the past two days negotiating with the airline they were originally scheduled to return home on when they were taken into custody on April 14.
Heather, 37, and Monica, 57, ran into trouble at a small airport near Darjeeling, India, when officials there discovered a clip of 9 mm ammunition in Heather Bond’s baggage. Both women denied knowing about the ammunition. Sean McGaughey, Heather Bond’s boyfriend, said the ammunition, which consisted of 11 bullets, belonged to him and made it into the baggage accidentally. But that didn’t explain how the bullets made it through security at several international airports, including LAX, undetected.
McGaughey told the Daily Sound shortly after the two women were arrested that he and Heather Bond often carry weapons while camping in the backcountry surrounding Santa Barbara.
But despite efforts by McGaughey and many other locals, including Santa Barbara Police Chief Cam Sanchez, to convince Indian officials of the women’s innocence, the two were charged with weapons violations under the Indian Arms Act and jailed.
After a 16-day stint behind bars, a judge granted a bail request and the women were released on April 30, on the condition they remained in India where they had to check in with authorities on a regular basis.
Between April 30 and this week, the Bonds had bounced from court to court, their lawyers seeking a way to convince judicial authorities the women should be freed, Lawrence Bond said.
Though they were allowed to return to the United States, Lawrence Bond said the charges have not yet been dismissed and attorneys will appear on the women’s behalf over the next couple of weeks. Both women posted $250 bail, which Lawrence Bond said they would not get back unless they return to India in the next three months.
For Lawrence Bond, the past two months have been filled with anxiety and fear — emotions that nearly boiled over two weeks ago when he checked himself into Goleta Valley Cottage Hospital after experiencing a tingling sensation in his chest.
He said doctors told him the sensation in his chest was the result of stress.
But it was a huge scare given his past history.
In 1995, Lawrence Bond underwent quintuple bypass surgery after experiencing severe heart failure.
“I dropped dead in the street,” he said.
Lawrence Bond said the recent sensations worsened each time a bail request was denied, or any bout of bad news related to his wife and daughter trickled onto the Internet.
“I was on the ropes and somebody was kicking me in the stomach,” he told the Daily Sound last week. “I just thought one more kick and I’d be down for the count. I just didn’t think I could take anymore.”
When the news began to improve, and he discovered the women could get their passports back, Bond said the sensation subsided.
Now, it’s gone.
“It’s going to be the happiest day of my life…” Bond said in anticipation of seeing his wife and daughter, who had only planned to be on vacation for a month. “I know they are completely thrilled to get back.”

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