Take a second and think. What is the scariest situation you have ever been in? What was it? what did you do?
In the past 23 years of my life, I have been in some crazy situations. Have I been scared at times, hell yes. Nothing like what I experienced on January 6th, 2017. That was a whole different type of fear. On this day, I was flying back to the states to return to school. Before I could even think of going back to Beverly, I had to stopped in Fort Lauderdale to visit my best friend.
This is where the story begins.
My flight was at the ass crack of dawn. I couldn’t have picked an earlier flight if my life depended on it. Somehow, I managed to make it to the airport and not miss my flight. Thanks to who ever people thank when something works out in your favor.
Since I was a little girl, I’ve had this strange ability to sense stuff before they happen. No, I’m not a nut, well at least I don’t think so anyways. I have always just gotten a “gut feeling” something was going to happen. Also known as, Intuition. I’m sure you have experienced this before.
Immediately, when I woke up I had this feeling.
Never in my life have I been scared of flying, I have never thought twice about jumping on an airplane too a new destination. With a lay over in Puerto Rico, my anxiety continued to creep up.
Right before landing in Fort Lauderdale, was probably one of the scariest flying experiences I’ve ever had. The lady sitting next to me who didn’t even know me could see how nervous I was. The whole flight she was going out of her way to comfort me. I later saw she had a daughter, sitting two rows up the same age as me. Her motherly instincts kicked in for sure. The landing was perfect resulting in me feeling like a crazy person for freaking out over nothing. The feeling wasn’t for nothing though.
I do a lot of flying. I absolutely hate checking bags because I want to be in and out. Standing around waiting for my luggage is a waste of my life. This time I had no choice but to check a bag.
After getting off the plane I slowly made my way down to baggage claim. Like any good daughter, I of course called my family and told them I had landed safely. Did they answer the phone… Nope.
This is where I learned if I am a “fight or flight” kind of person. Half way down the escalator my phone rang, it was my step mother returning my call. After about two seconds I heard loud bangs and the most bone chilling screams of my life. I can still hear these screams and I still get the goosebumps. Immediately there was a stampede of people running and yelling that a person was shooting.
What followed next took place in about 20 seconds or less, in the moment it felt like years. Everything was moving in slow motion.
While still on the phone I yelled at my step-mother there was a shooter and hung up. This probably wasn’t the best idea considering, I probably scared the crap out of her but It happened. Turning around and realizing I couldn’t go back up the escalator, I jumped off the side. See the escalator was going to end right where all the pandemonium was happening. I thought it was a good idea to avoid this hot zone, I have a lot of stuff I want to see in this world. Which was the best discussion I made, considering there was an actual shooter. With a real gun and real bullets.
Before I hit the ground, my feet were already moving. Normally I run at least 2 miles a day. So in that moment I was running so fast I’m not sure my feet were really touching the ground. I was outrunning everyone, well those who were actually running. People were diving for cover, hiding behind doors, and squatting under chairs. It was a scene straight out of an action movie. As I was running down the baggage claim terminal I was jumping over bags, phones, shoes, and just about anything else. People were literally scared out of their shoes. Jumping over dropped debris didn’t slow me down for a second.
I didn’t even have time to process anything, I just knew I had to get out there ASAP. Once I finally got outside, I called a Uber immediately. It never came. The airport was locked down within seconds and I was trapped. In all the chaos, I managed to rip my duffel bag off the conveyor belt. Hiding outside in the parking garage my step-mother called me back saying there was indeed an active shooter. Which was something I already knew.
Not being able to walk off airport property, I was stuck. It was the crappiest feeling ever knowing you have no options button sit and wait. The real cherry on the cake was my phone was on 9%. My battery would be dead in minutes at a time I needed it more than ever.
After all that happened, I still had “that” feeling. After experiencing this, I wasn’t even that scared. Yes, I had an adrenalin rush and was more alert. But I wasn’t in fear for my life as much as I should have been, everyone reacts differently. There was people literally paralyzed by fear all around me but, I was calmer than I should of been. Why? I think it has to do with the fact that I have a very special person looking out for me. I have complete faith in my guardian angel in guiding and protecting me.
With my phone battery on the brink of death, I had to go back inside. I picked terminal one to head to. It was the furthest away from everything and had benches I could sit on against a wall with a good view of everything. I am a people watcher, always have been. This day I could have landed a job for the secret service. I have never have focused so much attention to the people around me, ever.
At this time a span of 25 minutes had gone by since the shooting. Only 25 minutes.
That is when my dad called. My dad is the type of dad that would drop anything to help his children. He is a firefighter, he puts his life on the line every-time he goes the station. When it comes to his family, especially his children, he stops at nothing. I was putting off calling him until I knew I was in a safe location, trying not to stress him more. Of course, he was worried beyond belief, his daughter was just in a shooting. I just didn’t need to put extra sprinkles on top. With a two-minute conversation I told him my plans and my phone was dying so I had to hang up and find a charger. Just like any other dad would do I got a stern, “why isn’t your phone charged, you should have charged it ” speech.
After hanging up I called my best friend who I was supposed to be meeting in Lauderdale. At the time, she was stuck on a yacht in the Bahamas so why I called her? Well she is the friend I can call and tell anything, literally anything. In that minute long phone conversation I managed to scare the living shit out of her. This is when I finally broke down a little and began to feel. Before when I was too calm, I was in shock. She was the only one I could say what I was really thinking and experienced without sugar-coating it too make it not sound as bad. If your lucky to have a friendship like this then you completely understand what I’m trying to say.
Take note, I still have this horrible feeling.
I’m now inside the terminal sitting across from the TSA check point on a bench charging my phone. With the feeling still there, I was beyond freaked. While sitting there taking everything in, I noticed one huge problem. There was not one single cop or law enforcement agent. They were all at the crime scene. My immediate concern was if there was to be another attack, partner,and if something were to happen it would happen here and now.
I didn’t even have enough time to finish that thought when the sound of a shot-gun rang pierced my eardrums. The TSA agents where screaming to run and hide and for the first time alarms were going off. In one swift motion, I ripped my charger out of the wall, put my backpack on my stomach, and took off running. I ran and jumped over the security barrier. It was my only way out.
Running down the terminal corridor barefoot I experienced three moments that I will never forget until the day I die. One was the elderly couple that were frozen in fear in the middle of the hallway. Everyone ran past them but they were frozen like statues. With all the screaming and craziness I made the split decision to stop and get them to safety. I believe in karma, I wouldn’t be able to live with myself If I didn’t stop. I was raised to do good. After bending down to pick up the ladies walker, I pushed them into a bathroom to hide. It was the only place nearby that would somewhat shelter them. Thinking about this I can still see their faces to this day, almost 5 months later. Once they were taking care of, I took off running again. I was one of 4 people still up standing.
Just like before the floor was scattered with phones shoes and whatever people were holding. The second memory is running up behind a lady with a baby on the front of her and witnessing a guy push her out-of-the-way so he could go first. You read that right, he pushed a mother and child to protect himself. It took everything in my power to not run up to him and kick him in the shin, at that moment I had bigger fish to fry. Getting to safety was the most important.
Running down the hallway like a bat out of hell with one thing on my mind, get out of the building. That is when I saw a person waving to me at a doorway that leads to get on an airplane. Without hesitation I ran towards them. I remember thinking, I’m either going to get on the tarmac and run until I’m safe or I’m getting on an airplane with a locked door.
I was the last person to jump onto the airplane before the captain locked the door. About 25 other people were able to escape to safety. I sat in the emergency exit and scanned the crowd. At this moment I looked down and my hands were visibly shaking. I have never been so scared my hands actually shake. Guess there is a first time for everything.
The third moment I won’t forget was the people on the plane. The group of people complete strangers brought together by tragedy, formed a bond. We all came together in a time of need. Mothers were missing children, teachers their students, dead phones, and overall concern. These are the types of moments people’s true colors come out.
It took over an hour to get news that there wasn’t a second shooter. To this day I’m not entirely sure what caused the sound of a shotgun and alarms to go off but that’s in the past now.
From the plane I watched hundred of people run out of the airport in fear, all huddled in the tarmac trying to escape. We sat on that plane for 10 hours. During that time I watched movies, chatted with the people near me, and kept in contact with my family and friends.
My best friend is the one who kept me sane that day. If it wasn’t for her my day would have went a lot differently. After 10 hours, the swat team and FBI came and cleared out plane. I finally was able to leave. Walking down the airport beside the captain he was shocked when he saw where my bag was on the floor. He couldn’t believe the distance I was able to run in that short amount of time, that’s what fear and adrenaline do to you though.
Looking back on this day I learned a lot about myself. When shit hits the fan I can handle the pressure. Turns out my parents raised a person where in moments of craziness can still keep herself together and remember how I was taught to help others. Yes, I’m sure you read the news reports, people didn’t make it out of that baggage claim. It breaks my heart in many ways. This should never of happened.
Due to one person, it sadly did. If you have made it this far in this post keep this in mind if you are ever in this type of situation keep your wits about you. Help others, everyone is just as scared maybe even more than you are. Being an ass hole won’t get you anywhere, and you will live with your actions for the rest of your life.
Less than a week later I was back at the same airport in the same area to catch my flight home. The thing is you can’t let things scare me into not doing things. I don’t know the exact statistics because I’m not some super genius but, I feel the chances of me being involved in another airport shooting are slim. At least I pray they are. Keep traveling stay safe! Know your surroundings, man I sound just like a mom right there.
To those who didn’t make it home and to those injured, rest in peace !