It’s difficult to imagine a more excruciating 10 hours for any family.
Tammy Roy woke up early Saturday morning at her Columbia Beach home and checked her social media feed. What she learned rocked her to the core.
A massive earthquake had just hit Nepal. Roy’s son Tyler, a 22-year-old Kwalikum Secondary School graduate, was in the mountainous country, playing in a volleyball tournament with a Perth, Australia-based organization called Youth With A Mission.
At first, there was no news. Tammy tried not to let her mind go to a horrible place.
“I just panicked — it was excruciating,” Tammy told The NEWS this week.
“It’s not the thing you want to hear as a mom. I was trying to not let my mind go there. I quickly got everybody I know praying.”
Finally, 10 hours after she woke to the news of the quake, the Roy family (Tammy, husband Greg and Tyler’s siblings, Brooke and Jordan) learned through social media that Tyler was OK.
“We heard he was safe, but we didn’t know what was going on,” said Tammy. “The wait was not fun.”
Tammy later learned how close Tyler was to danger. She said he was hiking with some of his group in the mountains the day before the big one hit, a place destroyed by the earthquake and avalanche 24 hours later.
“If the earthquake happened the day before, he wouldn’t have been alive,” said Tammy.
When the massive earthquake hit, Tammy said Tyler and his group was in the immigration building at the airport, getting ready to fly back to Perth.
“They were probably at the safest building possible, it’s one of the newer structures in Kathmandu,” said Tammy. “He said when the quake hit he hugged a pillar, a beam, and then they got outside. He said it was really chaotic — people were panicking and screaming. The power went out, ceiling tiles were flying off. And every time there was an aftershock, people were hysterical.”
Tyler and his group ended up sleeping overnight outside the airport, but were able to fly out of Kathmandu the next day.
“As they were waiting on the runway, taxi-ing, a 6.7 hit,” said Tammy. Remarkably, the runway didn’t suffer damage and the plane was able to leave Nepal.
When Tyler arrived back in Perth he was able to Skype with his family.
“I burst into tears, happy tears,” said Tammy after seeing her son was OK. “I’d love to give him a hug, but I know he’s in the right place.”
More than 5,000 people have died in the Nepal earthquake and aftershocks.