MIAMI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, FLA. (WSVN) - A South Florida family that was forced to hide during Thursday’s deadly attack in Barcelona has flown back home, and they are speaking out about the terrifying ordeal.
The Ritkes family, who resides in Weston, spoke to 7News from a terminal at Miami International Airport, Friday afternoon.
Gary and Sonia Ritkes said they do not plan to leave the house for the foreseeable future.
“Not for a while,” said Sonia.
“Yeah, we’re staying home for a while, that’s for sure,” said Gary.
The family of six touched down at MIA just one day after the terrorist attack claimed the lives of more than a dozen people and injured at least 100 others.
Gary said he and loved ones suddenly found themselves on the path of danger. “It happened so quickly, and all of a sudden, you see hundreds and maybe thousands of people just running at you,” he said.
Sonia said the family was just feet from where, authorities said, a terrorist drove a van down the crowded Las Ramblas promenade. “We were like, ‘Oh, my God,’ and that was it,” she said. “Then you just heard screaming. It must have been bodies. We don’t know. It was terrible noises.”
Cellphone video captured the Broward family running through the streets of Barcelona. “We ran for our lives,” said Sonia.
During the chaos and confusion, Charlie, the youngest family member, was separated from the others as hundreds ran for their lives.
“I got stuck behind a stampede, away from my family,” said Charlie.
His sister, Veronica, said she and her parents looked her brother. “I was yelling for him, and we were searching for him, and once we finally got him, I just gave him the biggest hug,” she said.
The family found a restaurant where some people hid behind a bar, not knowing what would come next. “[Some were] on the floor, and there were people under tables and chairs, and all I kept thinking was, ‘Oh, my God,'” said Sonia.
“It was complete terror,” said Veronica.
Throughout the ordeal, Justin Ritkes said he did his best to remain calm. “Just getting ready for the next step, always being prepared, not panicking, not crying,” he said.
Gary shot video of the aftermath on his iPhone. The footage shows the family and others following police away from the area after about two hours.
“We were all huddling down through the crowds, holding hands,” said Veronica. “[Police] were saying, ‘Don’t look, don’t look.'”
Now safe in South Florida, the family reflected on the close call. Just hours before he attack, they had been sightseeing.
The Ritkes said they had plans to meet in the middle of the market where the attack took place, but someone stole Sonia’s purse, and they were held up by police.
Otherwise, Sonia said, they would have been in the direct line of danger. “We would have been walking where he was driving, just massacring people,” she said.
Despite bearing witness to the chaotic scene, the Ritkes said the incident won’t stop them from traveling.
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