One year later, couple remembers Costa Concordia disaster

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:51:55 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 14 2013 12:03:27 AM EST

A South Florida couple who was celebrating their honeymoon aboard the Costa Concordia during last year's deadly disaster tell Local 10's Neki Mohan about the frightening night.


Aventura newlyweds David and Denise Saba were in Italy one year ago Sunday. They were one of thousands excited to board the Costa Concordia for their honeymoon. That excitement was short lived.

"It felt like a horrible earthquake and the ship started tilting very quickly to one side... it was a scary moment , they stopped the engines and it got calm. people were screaming and they were in panic but they lied to us so we believed that everything was OK," said David Saba.

A they would find out, things were far from okay.  The ship had run aground and the mammoth ship was taking on water rapidly through a massive hole.

"It was just like Titanic, people were throwing themselves on to the lifeboats. They wasted a lot of time and that's why people are dead today," said Denise Saba.
"People should not have thrown themselves to the water because they were in panic. This captain and his crew did not know what to do."

The Sabas piled into a lifeboat and made it to the island of Giglio with just the clothes on their backs. They spent another five days touring Rome, while family scrambled to get emergency papers to the embassy to get they home.

"I learned to value my life, definitely. Anything can happen at any moment," said Denise.

In total, 32 people died when the Costa Concordia ran aground. In Giglio on Sunday, survivors and relatives unveiled a memorial to the victims and participated in a Mass in their honor. A minute of silence was held to recall the exact moment that the cruise ship rammed into a reef off Tuscany.

The captain, Francesco Schettino, is accused of multiple manslaughter, causing a shipwreck and leaving the ship before all passengers were evacuated. He hasn't been charged but is living under court-ordered restrictions pending a decision on whether to indict him. Schettino maintains he saved lives by bringing the ship closer to shore rather than letting it sink in the open sea, and claims the reef he hit wasn't on his nautical charts.

The Concordia remains on its side, grounded off Giglio's port. Officials now say it will take until possibly September to prepare the ship to be rolled upright and towed from the rocks to a port to be dismantled. The cost has also swelled to $530 million.

While Sunday's commemoration was focused on the relatives of those who died, Giglio's residents were also being remembered for having opened their doors to the survivors who came ashore that night, cold, wet and traumatized after a chaotic evacuation.


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