"We felt the ground shake, but we just thought it was a small earthquake," Frank said. "Then we started to hear the news report it had hit Port-au-Prince so hard that we jumped straight into the car. It was a six-hour drive."
Frank, who worked for CBS News until late December, moved to Haiti just two weeks ago, where Jillian works for a Christian aid group. They'd been married a year and a half. Amazingly, she was able to reach him by cell phone - a 10-second call for help.
"She said she was trapped and that's all that I knew. It was a terrifying -- it was --absolutely terrifying," Frank said.
He arrived to discover that their three-story concrete home had completely collapsed, trapping Jillian and a co-worker in what had been a small office on the second floor.
"It's all on the ground level now," Frank said. "And she and one other person who works for the organization, the Haitian Ministries she works for, were completely trapped underneath about a foot of concrete."
But Jillian had held on through the long night.
"I jumped into the hole and I was able to see her wave her hand," Frank said. "I couldn't see her whole body. She was just waving and I could hear her voice. And it was -- I mean, you know, I couldn't hold it together, but all she was saying, 'just hold it together, hold it together, just get me out of here.' And, you know, we had to pull, you know, bricks and bricks and bricks and wood and doors and metal away for at least an hour before we were able to get her and her coworker out as well."
Jillian's father, Clay Cook, was astounded by what his son-in-law did.
"They could see one hand waving and were able to talk to her," he said. "Frank actually literally lifted her out of the wreckage. Just like the cavalry. You can't script that stuff."
Jillian has cuts and bruises, while her coworker may have a broken leg in addition to rib injuries. They are receiving medical care at the U.S. embassy, but a third woman trapped with them may be in danger of losing her legs. The Thorps' immediate plans are unclear - but her father says she's staying in Haiti.
"We were talking about getting her out and bringing her home and she said, 'I can't leave I have to stay and help.' She's a big girl, she'll make that decision," he said.
The family says their story has a happy ending - so now they want to focus on the millions in Haiti who are still desperate for help.