SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - A group of friends from San Jose survived the Nepal Earthquake.
They were there on vacation and just hours from boarding a plane to head back home when the earthquake hit. The group got back Tuesday.
The trip was supposed to be a relaxing getaway. The four San Jose friends were on a two-week hiking trip to the Himalayas.
The vacation was everything they had dreamed of up until their last meal in Nepal when their restaurant began to violently shake.
"Being California natives we all knew immediately what it was," said Shiloh Ballard of San Jose. "It was pretty violent and pretty long. I was knocked off my feet and crawled to the doorway."
Right away, Ballard said, worry and panic erupted. She likened it to the Loma Prieta Earthquake in 1989, yet this one was longer and stronger. The series of aftershocks wouldn't stop.
"It was pretty scary it was pretty terrifying," said Ballard.
She snapped photos on her cellphone of downed electrical lines crushing cars and many collapsed buildings in ruins.
"We were in the exact locations of some of the places where buildings completely toppled," said Ballard. "People died. We were there just 15 minutes before."
"The people in the city were terrified," said Bob Brownstein of San Jose. "The sense of fear was massive."
Brownstein was also on that trip. The one vivid picture he can't get out of his head was the hundreds of people fighting to get through a small single airport doorway.
"I feel very lucky to be alive and very lucky to have been able to come home. All of us feel that way," said Brownstein.
Both of them are now appreciative more than ever, taking stock of what they left behind.
"I was fortunate enough to be (able to) leave Kathmandu and come back to a very nice life. People in Kathmandu aren't as fortunate."