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Shawn Alan McCormick

I was working at Yellow Cab Co in downtown Santa Cruz when the earthquake hit. It seemed to go on forever. I was making sure all in my building were safe. I was checking in with all my drivers to make sure they were too. I had my husband go a few blocks away to pick up our two daughters and make sure they were safe. I then started trying to check in with my family. It was close to impossible to do that but I finally succeeded.

The only person I couldn’t get in contact with was my brother who at the time worked at The Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting Co. I had heard that three people were trapped in the building. I walked across our parking lot to the fire department to see if I could get any info..only that three people were trapped. I knew in my heart one of them was my brother. He would have been trying to make sure we all were ok and accounted for but none of us had heard anything.

My mom and dad and husband and children were now with me at the Cab Co. I got a relief worker and we all left. We drove a few blocks to the back side of the Roasting Co and it was already very dark and so eerie downtown. When we arrived at the Roasting Co my mom and I walked up to a crowd all sitting on the ground hugging and crying. I said “Has anyone seen Shawn?” It got very quiet and the owner of the Coffee Roasting Co stood up along with her manager and asked who we were. I said his sister and mother. The owner said “I can’t do this” and started crying and the manager said he is at County. At the time there was a community hospital in town and we assumed that is what they were saying.

At this time everyone was looking at us crying…the manager said..no..the county morgue…I was stunned…numb…I knew I had to take care of my mother who now was hysterical crying and slumped over on the ground. The crowd was still there as they were waiting for Robin Ortiz…unfortunately she passed away also. Shawn’s girlfriend Brittany Marquez was also trapped but pulled to safety alive. The days that followed were surreal and heartbreaking.

SHAWN ALAN McCORMICK. BORN AUG 19TH 1968 DIED OCTOBER 17TH 1989. 21 years old.

Left behind
Mother … Ethel Harrison
Stepfather … James Harrison
Father … Roy B McCormick
Sisters … Melinda McCormick, Terri Griswold
Daughter … Amber McCormick

 

By Terri Griswold

 

I was on the way past the first level walkway behind home plate, to my seats about 25 rows directly up from first base. I had just walked past Ozzie Canseco and Esther (Jose’s wife) in the crowd and heard a loud noise, looked up to right field and saw a mini-wave pass quickly through the upper deck concrete facade (this was very odd to see a wave move through concrete!). The power went out in Candlestick and everyone was quite confused for a while and it was really quiet, very eerie – we all knew something happened, but did not know what it was. I worked my way to my seat, and the man behind me had one of those Sony “Watchman” handheld units and so we gathered around him to see what was happening.

We saw the Marina District on fire from the helicopter news camera, the collapsed span of the Bay Bridge, and worst of all, the 880 upper decks pancaked on the lower level. It was horrifying as we watched. We then began to hear sirens in the distance and emergency power came back on in the stadium, all the players on the field and more confusion. I knew at that time the game would not be played and headed for the parking lot and my car. As I got near my car, I saw a man next to me and did a double take to see it was Joe DiMaggio! I said hello to Joe and we both had the same idea, get out of there!

I attempted to take the back streets to my hotel in Burlingame, but when I got to 101, it was closed. What made it most painful what that on the back streets, it was pretty tense, people throwing bottles at cars, out on the streets and no power. Eventually I found my way (it was dark now) back to my hotel and attempted to call my family in Seattle – but could not get a call out for hours. I was stranded in the hotel and Bay Area for two days before I could get home. A very memorable, sad and lifelong experience to recall.

By Keith Cupp
Vancouver, Washington

The day started typically enough, the usual Indian summer type weather, warm, dry, clear skies. It was a day the whole Bay Area was looking forward to, because the World Series would be hosted by the two baseball teams of the Bay Area, the Giants & the A’s. The A’s would go on to sweep the Giants.

For me, it wasn’t about waiting to see the game, because I had to go to work at 7Up, 1027 Rosedale Ave, Capitola; after attending school at Cabrillo. I can remember when the quake first hit. It seemed in a sort of slow motion. The first thing I noticed was the initial shock & sound. I froze in my stance, at the entry way of the warehouse, first viewing the ground, as the waves moved through the ground, moving the dust in a uniform manner. I looked to the freeway, noticing all the cars stopping, presumably due to not knowing that there was a quake, but that something was wrong with their vehicles. I looked to the tree line, noticing the grove of eucalyptus shaking like pom-poms, but in a most violent way imaginable. The 7Up trucks, back from their deliveries & lined up for loading for the next day, were shaking in place. I looked up to the top of the warehouse, from the base where I was standing, watching it sway from a normal form, to a trapezoid numerous times. My boss was standing in his doorway, braced within the door frame, holding tight. As the quake was subsiding, I noticed a mobile home, in the park next door, had fallen from its foundation of metal stands. The only damage the warehouse suffered was a broken board in its roof structure & the raise door having two of its bolts broken.

As we were getting our sorts together & the three of us at the plant were putting ourselves together, we were still in a state of shock. The boss, who didn’t live that far away, needed to check in on his family & said he would return. The fellow coworker & I were working toward getting the product that had fallen moved away enough to stuff what delivery trucks we could get into the warehouse. It then dawned on me that a friend, who was a nanny, was playing with the family’s children in front of a large plate glass window, where I had left her when I dropped her off after school. I figured I should make the 3 mile drive back to their house, to see if they were alright. When I got there, the mother & the friend, the nanny, were cleaning up glass; not from the window, thankfully. I then drove back to the warehouse.

As we were finishing up with the warehouse, as I was back working with the coworker, the boss drove up & we hastily got the warehouse secured. We were asked to return the next day & shore things up in a better manner.

As I was driving back home, I could see the spot fires from the broken gas lines. At times, they could be heard breaking & the sound of high pressure gas escaping; the line could usually be turned off relatively quickly. At this time, there was no power, but within 24 hours, remarkably, power would be mostly restored. I had stopped about ½ mile from home, upon seeing a fire, smelling natural gas. There was a woman whom was standing outside, looking on. She was calm. I mentioned that she shouldn’t be around the gas & that is all one can do; get away from it. She wanted to stay there, at her home to battle the elements. All the traffic lights were out & the homeless were out in the intersections, directing traffic. As I arrived home, I was greeted by neighbors.

As I was talking to my neighbors, they asked me if I had been at my home yet. They were sharing with me their experiences of what to expect upon entering; it was more than I expected. Surprisingly, the stereo rack, with a system purchased in 1977, that I still have, even on this 25th year of the ’89 quake, was still intact. The only victim of the system was that a 70 pound reel to reel, fell on its reel side, but weighted down the base enough so it didn’t fall completely over. The reel to reel still hasn’t been the same though. The water dispenser & its 5 gallon glass carboy were broken, along with a plate. The only injury I would receive from the ordeal was a cut finger cleaning up the glass.

As the night had mostly kept in & I was exhausted from the activity, all I could do was to crawl into bed & fall to sleep; a deep sleep. I didn’t hear a thing that first night, after the quake. The following nights wouldn’t be escaping me so easily, or the next day.

By Jeff Mick

I can still feel the waves in Grant Road raising my Toyota truck up and down, over a 1-foot swing, as I watched the sine waves roll north up Grant, from Portland where I was stopped in the middle of the road.

I turned and looked down Portland, and the first thing I saw was the church monument at that intersection swinging. It’s that tall monolith. Then the residents that lived on Portland at Grant, two elderly people. Husband and wife, they were holding onto the garage, but kept falling and getting back up. And looking down Portland (still from a stationary position) I observed the pepper and pine trees thrashing back and fourth, creating a dense pollen cloud that I could not see through. I turned down Portland and drove through the cloud of dust, then Carmel Terrace, and I was home. The kids ran out to meet me, and were visibly shaken. I went inside, all the cabinets had open doors and my wife was cleaning up some broken glass in the kitchen. I went around and secured the area (no gas leaks, and the power was out).

“This is the point that I started my tape recording

I pulled out my trusty Honda EX1000 generator, fired it up, and got the TV and some of my ham radios going. We watched the local news via the antenna, and several of my neighbors came by to join us in front of the TV, as I seemed to be the only one with a generator on my street.

We broke out the camping equipment to make dinner, then as soon as I was finished, about 9:00 pm, I received a call from the Palo Alto Red Cross Disaster Coordinator (Ted Harris, N6IIU) via the SPECS Amateur Radio Repeater that I was monitoring, and I was dispatched to open up a shelter at the corner of Escuela Avenue and ECR, in Mountain View. I responded, opened the shelter, and checked in displaced residents all night. In the morning, Mountain View Fire came by to inspect the building, and determined it was condemned due to structural damage, and the shelter was moved to the main Remington Park facility, where it was in operation for about 5 days.

By Eric Tofsrud

Earthquake Story

I was living in South San Francisco at the time. .. I was at the SSF Public Library near Westborough when the earthquake hit. .was trying to finish up my homework so I could go to my friend’s house to watch the game. .. in the meantime, we were using his Walkman to listen to the game via radio. . All of a sudden you hear screaming in the background and hear a loud rumble and the announcers at the time just like not sure was going on. .. the next thing you know. . We could hear screams and a loud rumbling as well. . The lights in the library kept flickering off and on. . My friend and scrambled under the table. ..then you could hear a crash as the book shelves came crashing down domino style and landed right on top of the table me and my friend were at. .the ground shook forever. ..finally it stopped.. while we didn’t move yet because we weren’t sure what would happen next. .. I wouldn’t say it was pitch black because there was some light outside. .. finally my friend and I crawled out from under the table. . Helped a girl and her boyfriend out. .it was just weird. . Anyway as I was walking home. .I could hear sirens all over the place. .it wasn’t too bad where we were. ..I just wanted to go home and make sure everything and everybody was ok. .. that night as I stared out the window, noticed it was an orange full moon. ..watching the news the next day was disheartening just to see the city and surrounding area all in disarray. .. and learning there were many deaths from the collapse of the double decker I-880.

By Jeff Ah Sam

Loma Prieta Quake in Fresno

I was at my mother’s house in Fresno at the time of the quake. I was cleaning her pool to keep busy in pure anticipation of the Bay Bridge Series about to begin. As I was brushing the sides of the pool and chatting about the game with my mother the water began to slosh back and forth 3 to 4 feet in the air alternating at either end of the pool. My mother exclaimed, “Do you think something is wrong with the pump?” to which I declared, “Hell NO, it is an earthquake!” I immediately dropped the pool brush and ran inside to view the television where the pre-game had been on. Suffice to say, the rest is history.

By William Poore

In Downtown San Francisco

It’s hard to believe this month will be the 25th anniversary of the Loma Prieta earthquake. But the proof is in my baby girl about to celebrate her 26th birthday:) It was just another Tuesday, and I ran down the escalator to catch the 5:00 p.m. train home to get home to feed my new baby. Down the stairs at the Embarcadero Bart station ticket in hand like a thousand days before, but missed the train. A few minutes later, the ground shook violently and as I looked around at the people around me I realized we were having an earthquake and it was bad. The lights went out momentarily and people screamed, then they flickered back on and people began to run. I hesitated, afraid of a stampede up the now still escalator, then joined the crowd as the Embarcadero station sign waved crazily above me.

It was over quickly, but when we came up to the light people were running around dazed. I didn’t know what to do and headed back to my office where I encountered several shaken colleagues who told me they had been on the 25th floor and swayed several feet. The bridge and BART were closed and phones were down (no cells yet); we spent the next several hours in the Mandarin Hotel Lobby huddled in fear (but drinking free wine:). Finally phone lines became available and we were able to let our families know we were okay. Eventually BART was declared safe and I got on the first train around 3 or 4 a.m. to get back to Concord. People were saying the Bay Bridge had collapsed. I was scared but wanted to get home. I spent the next few days watching the surreal news clips showing some of the horrific things that had happened. It seemed it could have been so much worse and I was thankful to be alive and well.

When I got the courage to return to work the following Monday, the nice doorman whom I chatted with daily told me his son was still missing and assumed dead in the Oakland freeway collapse, and it hit me that even though the death toll was “low” people had lost their friends and families, and I was heartbroken for them. I was afraid for a long time, but we humans are so amazing, in time I stopped thinking about it. Until, a few years later I was at Universal Studios and happened upon a ride – an EQ simulation. Against my better judgment, I entered. When the ground started shaking and the phony “Embarcadero” sign waving, I started to cry and begged them to stop. I was embarrassed but my fear just bubbled back to the surface. I knew I didn’t want to work in SF any more at that time, and a few years later I ditched the corporate commute, and got a job right down the street – and lived happily ever after. It felt good to write this down!

By Sheila Hill, via this blog’s Facebook page

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