Former NBC4 Intern Rescues Wife From Haiti Rubble

Shaken American husband helps rescue quake-trapped wife

By Sharon Donnell
|  Thursday, Jun 30, 2011  |  Updated 10:12 AM EDT
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Dramatic Photos: Earthquake Aftermath in Haiti

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Frank and Jillian Thorp

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A former NBC4 intern who is now a missionary in Haiti rescued his wife from the rubble left by Tuesday's devastating earthquake.

Frank Thorp Jr. is now at the epicenter of one of the worst natural disasters in recent history.  He told NBC's "TODAY" show that he was 100 miles away from Port-au-Prince when the 7.0 earthquake struck yesterday, but his wife Jillian was in the capital. 

Click here for a list of ways to help the people of Haiti.

Thorp had no idea at first that she might be in danger because there was no cell phone reception in his location and the quake felt mild at his location.  Soon, though, he heard a rumor that Port-au-Prince had been hit "really hard." He made his way to the city as fast as he could, he said -- a roughly six-hour drive. Thorp arrived in Port-au-Prince to find chaos in the streets. 

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"It's worse than a war zone," he said. "It's thousands and thousands of Haitians on the streets because their buildings and their houses have collapsed and they can't live in them." 

When he arrived at his mission house, he realized that his wife and a colleague were trapped under the rubble.  The group's Haitian staff had already dug through the concrete ceiling of the house when Frank Thorp arrived. He helped the other rescuers pull away bricks and wood and other debris.  After a 10-hour ordeal, she was finally freed. "I pulled her out," he said.

Jillian Thorp "has some major bruises and she's having a hard time walking," but is otherwise OK, her husband said.  The man trapped with her has an apparent broken leg, and another member of the staff may lose both legs, Thorp said.

It is still too early to calculate the casualties from the quake and its aftermath, but from Frank Thorp's final description of Haiti's capital, the numbers are likely to be grim.

"There are dead people.  There are people dying on the streets, there are injured on the streets," he said.  "There are so many people here that need help.  It's absolutely horrible."

For a list of ways to help the people of Haiti, click here.

For  complete coverage of the earthquake and aftermath, click here.

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