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Kentuckians survive ship wreck in Mediterranean

By: Tim Johnston Email
By: Tim Johnston Email
Friends react to an EKU student

The luxury cruise ship Costa Concordia leans on its side after running aground the tiny Tuscan island of Giglio, Italy, Saturday, Jan. 14, 2012. A luxury cruise ship ran aground off the coast of Tuscany, sending water pouring in through a 160-foot (50-meter) gash in the hull and forcing the evacuation of some 4,200 people from the listing vessel early Saturday, the Italian coast guard said. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)

The sight of a large ship laying sideways in the water, was a little unreal for EKU student, Thomas Johnson.

"It is very eerie," described Johnson, "it was turned sideways and it looked pretty crazy."

That's because Johnson's roommate, Joseph Ryan was one of the thousands of passengers onboard the Costa Concordia in the Mediterranean.

"It was crazy that this happened to him, first of all to a close friend, and I got very worried, [hoping] he's fine," said Johnson of his first reaction to the news.

Johnson says a quick call to a mutual friend followed by a glance at Ryan's Facebook page removed any worry.

"I got on Facebook immediately and saw everyone was posting, 'It's great to hear that you're doing okay,'" said Johnson.

Ryan's father, Larry Ryan, says he got a phone call from his son, letting him know he was safe and describing the moments before the evacuation.

"He said things were unsettled and things were falling off tables, and he said it was a pretty scary scene," said Larry Ryan, by phone.

Johnson, a five year veteran of the U.S. Navy says he can only imagine how chaotic things must have been..

"We practiced for things like this," started Johnson, "it was real crazy and hectic, so I couldn't even imagine what it was like with a civilian cruise ship with a bunch of civilians people [onboard]. The chaos that must have been [happening]."

However, Ryan wasn't the only Kentuckian on board.

"It's unimaginable that she's 4,000 miles away and you can't do anything," said Joyce Powell, whose 24-year-old daughter, Jordan, and her boyfriend, Nick Hope, both from Louisville, were onboard when the ship ran aground.

"They were at dinner and she said, 'Mom, all of a sudden things [were] going sideways," relayed Powell. Adding that her daughter wanted to call and say, "I'm safe, we're all safe, we're on land."

Still, for these families and friends they cannot wait to wrap their arms around their survivors and welcome them back home.

Ryan and the others are expected to make it back to the states as early as Sunday.

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