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Local Couple Back Home After Cruise Ship Crash
Reported by: Darrah Wilcox
Web Producer: Darrah Wilcox
Reported: Jan. 18, 2012 4:17 PM EST
Updated: Jan. 19, 2012 8:39 AM EST
Huntington , Cabell County , West Virginia
At least eleven people are dead and two dozen are still missing nearly a week after a cruise ship ran off course and crashed off the coast of Italy.
A couple from our region was wrapping up their Mediterranean honeymoon cruise, watching a magician Friday night on that cruise ship. We caught up with Meghan and Andrew Ardire Wednesday afternoon. Meghan tells us how it started.
"He was in the middle of an act. He was pulling someone on stage to do a trick, and then we heard the noise, and the whole room was shaking, and then the lights went out, and everything was falling. All the glass was falling."
They were part of the 4,000 passengers on board at the time. Andrew Ardire says,
"There was a rock tearing down the side of it. So it felt exactly how you would imagine. It skidded and tilted, and everything shifted, and that's when everything fell." Meghan says everything was very surreal, and they weren't quite sure what to do.
The couple knew they had to stay calm and act quickly, but it took more than two hours to start loading people on lifeboats. They say they went to their room to grab life jackets, and went to wait on a lifeboat and more instructions. They say most people were staying calm, but there were families who were getting separated and lost from each other. Meghan says, "More and more people were panicking because they weren't letting us on the lifeboat."
They say there was no real plan from those in charge. Andrew tells us, "All the help we received was from waiters, cooks, dancers, housekeeping. People who should not have been bearing that burden of leadership, but were."
He says they are extremely thankful for the help they got from those crew members, but are still trying to figure out why things were so disorganized from management. They had watched an emergency video in their cabin, but this wasn't required for passengers.
After several tense moments even on the lifeboat, they finally made it to the island to try to make their way home. "I kept holding Andrew's hand, and I was silent, because I couldn't think of anything to say. I was praying in my head the whole time, 'just let everyone be okay'.
They caught up with several friends they made on the ship, touched based with loved ones back home, and started the long journey back to the United States. After another several days full of uncertainty and chaos, the pair got to Lexington Monday night, and back to Carter County on Tuesday.
The Ardires say they are grateful to be home, and their thoughts and prayers are not only with the families of the victims, but also with crew members who have lost friends and even their livelihoods after the crash.
They tell us the cruise company has contacted them to let them know they will be reimbursed for the trip and their personal items. They say they hope some type of justice is served for the captain who allegedly caused the wreck.
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