From the comfort of his living room, Richard Santos, of Silver Spring, Md., explained what it’s like to be trapped under rubble for more than 50 hours.
Last week, Santos and five friends were about to have dinner at a hotel in Haiti when the earthquake struck. Santos says The ceilings crashed down, and when the rumbling stopped, Santos saw there was no way out.
“The initial reaction was shock and 'Are we alive?'” said Santos. “Then the first night, we know no one is going to rescue us. We knew that for a fact. But we were hopeful someone would come the next morning.”
Sure enough, Santos said, a rescue team did arrive and banged on the concrete slabs above him. They exchanged words, but that was it. Santos said the rescue team never came back, and that night depression set in.
“That was the first time I thought I wasn’t going to make it,” said Santos. “You know, I started thinking about my wife and kids, literally making sure my passport was in my pocket so when they extracted me my family would know that I wasn’t missing anymore.”
Santos said he and his friends were lucky there was enough air inside their pocket in the rubble. But without food or water, the group didn’t know how long they could survive. However, when things were looking really bleak, Santos searched his bag and found a lollipop.
“We shared it amongst ourselves, and it was actually just the sugar, the sweetness,” said Santos. “It was after not eating for 24 or 30 hours. It also just lifted your spirits a little bit.”
Another day went by with no contact to the outside world. Then on Thursday night more than 50 hours after the earthquake, one of Santos's friends saw a ray of light. It was a flashlight from a French rescue team.
“We just started screaming and banging and the voice came back to us and said, 'We’re here to rescue you,'” said Santos. “All of us just started to cry.”