BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Chaos on board. A mother and daughter from Maryland feared for their lives when the Costa Concordia capsized off Italy.
Mary Bubala has their story of survival from inside the shipwreck.
It was a once in a lifetime vacation, a gift from a proud mother to her daughter who had just graduated from the University of Maryland.
But the dream trip turned into one of the worst cruise ship disasters since the Titanic. Terror and panic gripped the passengers on the Costa Concordia.
“I thought it was going to take us all under,” Justina Figueredo said. “It was a possibility that we weren’t going to make it.”
Anna and Justina Figueredo of Maryland were among the 3,000 passengers on board the Costa Concordia when it veered off course, striking a reef off the coast of Italy last month. Seventeen passengers were killed. Divers searched for 15 others presumed dead.
“It felt like an earthquake,” Justina Figueredo said.
It was just after 9:30 p.m. The crew told passengers not to panic and to stay in their cabins.
“I just couldn’t imagine how they told people to just go back to their room. What are you thinking?” said the Figueredos.
Anna and Justina Figueredo remember the ship rocking violently from side to side, water pouring into their cabin, chaos all around them.
Bubala: “You knew something was very wrong.”
Anna Figueredo: “Children crying, people running around because people don’t know where to go.”
“The minute the ship went black, everyone screamed,” Justina Figueredo said.
The crowd panicked.
“Everything just started shaking really violently,” Justina Figueredo said. “I see things falling down– everything from the bar, the glasses, everything shattering on the floor, people falling down, the paintings falling down.”
Anna and Justina Figueredo ran from their room, trying to make it to a lifeboat.
“You are looking at it, and it’s just on the slant, this shouldn’t be happening,” Justina Figueredo said.
It took them nearly two hours to make it off the ship. Some passengers literally climbed down the side of the ship to escape.
“They were aggressive. It was like, whoever gets there– survival of the fittest,” Justina Figueredo said.
Bubala: “There was a moment when you thought this could be it. You may not survive this.”
“I thought I was going to die. It was really, really scary,” Justina Figueredo said.
Anna Figueredo vows she’ll never go on a cruise again. Justina Figueredo admits she’ll also stay on dry land for a while.
Bubala: “Everything you lived through is haunting you?
Anna Figueredo: “Everybody thinks they are going to die because there is no way out.”
Justina Figueredo: “Sometimes I get really sad. Maybe I could have just saved somebody’s life by letting them have my spot on the boat.”
Anna and Justina Figueredo call the captain who abandoned the ship a coward. He’s now under house arrest facing multiple manslaughter charges.