SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC 4 Utah) – We first brought you this exclusive story about a Utahn who was in Nepal during the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that struck the nation of Nepal a week ago. Today, Ryan Erickson, is back home and sharing his experience in the tragedy. Good 4 Utah’s Aldo Vazquez sat down with Ryan to talk about the earthquake.
Aldo: “When you described the scene to us over Facetime you said that the buildings were shaking, glass was shattering, you saw a water tower fall in front of you. What else did you see?”
Ryan: “Well, when I made it to the street out of the restaurant, I got out on the street and the road was bending and buckling under my feet. I couldn’t believe that was really occurring, you could feel the road bending and I felt like I had three or four seconds to make a decision and just go with it. So, I ran up one street and it looked like there was no open space or anything and ran back and I just noticed that there was like this abandoned construction lot across the way that had a high fence. So, I just made a run and jumped the fence and got up over the fence into this open lot which seemed to be the only open area. And a lot of people saw me do that so started jumping the fence as well. So, I got into this open area, when I did that, I got into the area and I saw one tower fall. Luckily, it didn’t lean it just feel straight down. I felt somewhat safe in this lot like nothing was going to hit me, and that’s when there was a big water tower on top of this high rise it was on some scaffolding, it was just teetering and it just fell right into the lot and the barrel just burst and there was water everywhere in the lot. That was scary but that was still the safest place to be. By that time, more and more people kept filing into that lot, and we managed to get the gate open so we slid this gate open and probably by the end there was like 200 people filing into that abandoned construction lot.”
Aldo: “After the earthquake what was the scene like, what did you see?”
Ryan: “The scene was chaotic, there was dust everywhere, visibility was poor, there was dust everywhere. People screaming just in shock and everyone just huddled together not knowing what to do, and people kept filing into that open lot. I started then seeing injuries, people with bloody faces and stuff from glass and bricks that had fallen on them – head wounds. There was a building that had collapsed and we all started digging, moving bricks to see if we could find any survivors.”
Aldo: “When you got back home and you saw your family. What were you feeling what was going through your head?”
Ryan: “I was just so grateful cause I felt like, I felt like I could have died twice on that trip. Once at base camp we missed the avalanche that killed twenty climbers by four or five days, and then once in Kathmandu with the earthquake. I’m just so grateful, just counting my blessings.”
Aldo: “A week after the earthquake hit, I’m sure you’ve seen it all on the news. How are you doing?”
Ryan: “I’m doing fine, I mean, I’m having a bit of trouble sleeping at night. I have some nightmares and stuff, but like when I was on my flight the other night I came through London and there was some heavy turbulence on the flight and I woke up – I was sleeping – and I woke up thinking I was in another earthquake.”
Aldo: ” Having been through such a devastating natural disaster. Do you have a different outlook on life now?”
Ryan: “I do, yea, I was telling my friends and family that I’m just so grateful. Like you just appreciate the small things. I don’t really sweat the small things anymore, you just take a lot for granted but, I just don’t let little things bother me anymore when you go through something like that.”
Aldo: “What’s the one memory that will stick with you about the earthquake?”
Ryan: “Honestly, I mean of course I’ll remember the actual moment it hit. I’ll never forget that I mean that was just 5 minutes of juts terror. So I’ll remember that and I’ve replayed that over in my mind thousands of times. But, I think on a positive note, I’ll remember how I was treated by the Nepali people, because they really, I couldn’t believe how they were taking care of the foreigners and tourists especially people like me, I mean, I was by myself and they just, they had lost everything and they were making sure we were OK, because they told me in the Hindu culture, the Buddhist culture they have such a responsibility to take care of guests in their country, and I’ll remember how they treated me even when they were going through such dire circumstances, that will stick with me.”
Ryan is now ready for things to get back to normal. His biggest hope is that people will donate to help the people of Nepal.
Ryan: “If I can get anything across is that we can’t forget about these people you know, because the earthquake has come and gone, and there’s still aftershocks but, it’s gonna take them years to rebuild from this ’cause before the earthquake Nepal is a very poor country, and they depend so much on tourism and that tourism is going to take a hit. No one is gonna want to go to Nepal for awhile. So, theres a lot of people who have to figure out a new source of income and unfortunately Nepal’s one of the most corrupt countries in the world too, so a lot of this aid is not going to the right places. So, we need to partner with agencies that we can trust like the Red Cross, UNICEF and some of these agencies that have a good track record so we can get the aid where it needs to go. But, we can’t forget about them. It’s gonna take them years to rebuild and I don’t think they’ll be able to rebuild by themselves. They’re going to need pretty much all foreign support to be able to do it. We just can’t forget and if we can just do our part and donate to Nepal Red Cross or UNICEF or any of these other good agencies they desperately need it.”