CBSN

U.S. Family: Forgive U.K. Bombers

It was enough to make anyone panic: On July 7, Tennessee tourists Emily, 20, and Katie Benton, 21, were on the London subway, and only a few feet from a bomb when it detonated. For hours afterward, their parents, Patty and Dudley Benton, had no idea if their daughters were dead or alive.

"Katie was due to call at 8 that morning and she did not call home," Patty Benton tells The Early Show correspondent Tracy Smith. Knowing what was happening and not getting a phone call, "was almost worse when the phone did ring, I think," she says.

Both girls survived. But both were seriously hurt. Patty Benton flew to London prepared for the worst. But when she saw them, it took her back to the first time she saw them.

"The same feeling when they were born was the feeling I had that moment," Patty Benton says. "It was like seeing them with new eyes all over again. They were beautiful. They were my girls and they were beautiful.

"Emily's feet were messed up. Their faces were in really in pretty good shape. They looked like they'd been buckshot, you know, but not horrible, not disfigured, anything like that. So that was a great relief. And Katie said she ran her tongue over all her teeth and they were all still there and she was grateful."

The two were flown from London to Duke University Medical Center. Emily Benton suffered broken bones, lost skin on one foot and had a fractured hand. Katie suffered shrapnel wounds that exposed tendons and bones in a foot .

Only when they were hospitalized did the family learn how close a call it really was for the young women.

"There was an empty seat next to Katie and the woman in that second seat over was killed," Patty Benton says. "When the dust cleared Emily said she totally expected to have been burned alive. She thought she was being burned alive."

For parents who are hesitant to let their kids go overseas, Patty Benton says, "We've never been able to protect them in the first place. They're not in our hands. I've never been able to protect them. They're in God's hands."

And she adds, "We need to forgive the people who have done this to them because they have such hatred toward people that they don't even know. If we hold the same anger in our hearts, we're really no better than they are and it only eats us alive."

Dudley Benton says he is grateful his daughters are alive and notes, "That's what they say, too. They say we've got no souvenirs from London except scars down our arms, you know."

For Patty and Dudley Benton there are scars, too. But the kind that may take bit longer to heal.

The Benton sisters could be released as early as this week. Emily, who was more severely injured, will need more surgery before she's able to walk. Katie plans to start veterinary school next month. They both want to return to London some day.