FROM THE ARCHIVE: 25th anniversary of Jonestown massacre in 2003

"I pretended to be dead."

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ByDan Ashley via KGO logo
Thursday, November 19, 2020
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This week marks the 42nd anniversary of the Jonestown massacre where some people had ties to the Bay Area, including Congresswoman Jackie Speier.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- This week marks the 42nd anniversary of the largest mass murder-suicide in American history. It happened in a remote village overseas named "Jonestown" in the South American country of Guyana. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, D-Calif. was there in 1978. She was shot and left for dead.

"I pretended to be dead," Speier said.

Speier was just 28 years old. She was an aide to San Mateo County Congressman Leo Ryan, who went to investigate claims of abuse and people being held against their will in Guyana by cult leader Reverend Jim Jones. But his followers weren't going to let the Congressional delegation, including journalists, leave alive. They were ambushed as they were boarding their plane.

RELATED: Left for dead at Jonestown 40 years ago: A look back at the horrifying ordeal by survivor Congresswoman Jackie Speier

Speier was shot five times, including a bullet to her back.

Miraculously, Speier survived. She was finally airlifted to the United States where she would undergo at least 10 surgeries.

RELATED: 40 years after Jonestown massacre: Why survivor Jackie Speier says we have to be vigilant about religious groups that operate in secret

"In this edition of From the Archive," we take a look back at the 25th anniversary when Speier spoke to ABC7's Dan Ashley on November 18, 2003.

VIDEO: Rep. Speier opens up about Jonestown massacre