Quake Triggers Memories

As survivors continue to be pulled from the rubble in Turkey, their pain is being felt all over the world. CBS News Correspondent Sandra Hughes reports on a California man who has special sympathy with their terrifying plight.

"There's no words to describe your feelings, or my compassion for those people," says Jerry Prezioso, who knows firsthand what such pain is like. He was buried alive for six hours underneath an apartment building that had collapsed in the 1994 Northridge, California earthquake.

Prezioso's advice to those still trapped in the Turkish rubble: "You've got to have faith." That's what he credits with getting him through his 1994 ordeal. He was rescued from the same building where 16 other people died.

"I never lost consciousness," he remembers, struggling to control the emotions such reminiscence brings up. "When they came in all they could see was my knees down. And when they lifted up they started to pull, I told them to stop because of the nails, and they had to cut."

Such memories can be vivid and painful. Dr. Benita Wirth, who counsels those who survive earthquakes, says the experience can leave deep emotional scars.

One of Prezioso's strongest memories is the firefighter who rescued him, Mike Henry.

"There was two floors of building that were pinned across his midsection, making it difficult to breath," Henry recalled.

On the fifth anniversary of the quake, Henry was presented with a hero's award. Jerry was there.

"Every day is a gift," Prezioso says. It is a gift that he says he never takes for granted. After surviving on faith, and a little luck, he does what he likes best: betting on horse races. Not surprisingly, he usually wins.

  • CBSNews.com staff CBSNews.com staff

Comments