Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Miami Herald, May 1, 1976, "Cuban Newsman is Maimed As Bomb Explodes in Car" by Edna Buchanan and Dorothy Gaiter.

A bomb planted under the hood of his station wagon shattered the legs of the news director of Spanish-language radio station WQBA in Little Havana Friday night.

Emilio Milian, 45, who had editorialized against terrorism and violence in Miami, stepped out of the station after a show, got into his WQBA car, turned on the ignition and the device detonated at 7:17 p.m.

Late Friday doctors at Jackson Memorial Hospital amputated both of Milian's legs below the knees, and at 2 a.m today he was still in surgery, the hospital said. His condition was described as "serious but stable."

Moments before the explosion, Milian had been approached in the parking lot by Rosa Delgado and three friends who found a little lost boy. Miss Delgado, who attends Garces Commercial College on the first floor of the concrete-block building that houses the radio station, had explained the little boy's plight to Milian and he told them the station would call the police.

Then he turned on the ignition. Miss Delgado and her friends were 10 feet away.

"There was dark smoke and flames. I tried to open the door but it was too hot. I told him to help me help him. His eyes were full of pain," Mis Delgado said.

"He kept shaking his hands. He didn't say anything. He was bloody all over. He pulled up his leg to show me he couldn't move. His leg appeared to be severed below the knee. He was just looking at me."

Albert Miguel, 20, who was passing when he saw the hood of Milian's car hurled 100 feet in the air, ran to help. With two of Garces students he tried to open the car door but it was jammed.

Milian, still conscious, asked them: "Get me out."

"I couldn't open the door so I grabbed him by the belt and by his leg. His leg, both his legs were gone," Miguel said.

He and the others lifted Milian from the car.

"He's a brave man,' said Professor Herbert Garcia of the college. "He didn't cry. He saw his legs, but he didn't cry. He was trying yo get up."

Garcia said Milian pounded the pavement with his fists in anger and agony.

"He's one of the best," Garcia said of the broadcaster, whose station has the largest audience of any station in the metropolitan area. "He's a leader against Fidel Castro and leftists. Of course that's why this happened."

Miami City Commissioner J.L. Plummer, nearby when the explosion rocked the neighborhood, arrived then and was credited by firemen with saving Milian's life.

Milian recognized Plummer at once, as the commissioner worked to stop the bleeding.

"I was afraid he would bleed to death. He said: 'Plummer, the pain is very bad. Do something for the pain.' I told him I was doing everything I could," Plummer said.

Homicide Detectives Anthony Dagger and Ina Shepard arrived minutes after the blast, while firemen, who were still working on Milian, put him into a "shock suit" that forces blood up into the vital organs, preventing the victim from lapsing into shock.

Detective Dagger said Milian had been the target of "many threats in the past months after his editorials against the terrorists here in town."

Police had a watch over Milian's home.

Maj. Phil Doherty said the bomber apparently planted the device under the station wagon's hood during the daylight hours in the WQBA parking lot. Milian had driven it home for lunch.

Milian, who was born Sept. 8, 1930 in Cuba's Las Villas Province, had come to this country in 1965. He opened a print shop and worked part-time as a sports commentator for the station that later would become WQBA. In 1971, he became news director. He also directed the station's programming.

At Jackson Memorial, Milian's wife Enma Mirta, two sons, a daughter, his elderly father and two sisters maintained vigil late Friday night as surgeons operated.

Milian's son, Alberto, 15, said the death threats his father received were all the same. "They told him to shut up, to stop criticizing the bombings or they would murder him. He felt it was his right to criticize. He took precautions. He was not afraid.

"He had a gun, but he never looked under his car," young Milian said. "He told us when his day came, it would come." His father, he said, was angry "at the stupid idiots who were bombing."

Two days ago, the family said, a white car passed their home, stopped in front and someone got out. Milian reported the suspicious vehicle and its occupants to police and asked for protection.

After the Milian bombing Friday, Miami fire officials investigated a fire that gutted the 45-foot commercial fishing boat El Brabo at the Merrill-Stevens Dry Dock on the Miami River at 12th Avenue. There was no immediate evidence that the fire resulted from a bomb or that it was connected to the Miami incident, they said.

Copyright (c) 1976 The Miami Herald