Indy family, stuck in Florida, recalls evacuating airport

The Cooper family said Monday morning they were covered in bumps and bruises from crawling and running from the airport. (WISH photo)

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (WISH)—Three days after a mass shooting at a Ft. Lauderdale airport, people were still trying to make it home from Florida.

One Indianapolis family planned to board a flight home Monday at 6 p.m. The Cooper family said Monday morning they were covered in bumps and bruises from crawling and running from the airport.

The family made it out without any major injuries.

“It was an experience we’ll never forget, unfortunately,” Lisa Cooper said.

Cooper and her two kids kicked off 2017 with a relaxing cruise off the coast of Florida.

Sleeping at a crowded evacuation site was not on the itinerary. Neither was running for safety from the airport.

The Coopers sat at the airport Friday waiting to board their flight home. Lisa said she saw reports of a shooting on an airport TV, then she heard people yelling “get down!”

Lisa and her two kids, ages 20 and 21, hit the floor. When they looked up, they saw a security worker.

“He had his gun out and he opened some doors and yelled, run!”

The family left their carry-on bags behind and took off. Lisa said her son stopped to helped a little girl who fell to the ground in the commotion.

But what Lisa remembers most is a man the Coopers couldn’t help.

“We look up and right next to us is a man in a wheelchair. His wife is yelling, get down! Get down! And he couldn’t,” Lisa said. “You remember images like that.”

Lisa said she hopes the man made it out safely, but she had no choice but to leave the airport quickly.

With the clothes on their backs, two cell phones and one debit card, the Coopers ran through the streets of Ft. Lauderdale.

They wound up a few miles from the airport at an evacuation site. After they left there, they slept in the lobby of a hotel until a room opened up.

“The passport, the driver’s license, my house keys, my debit cards, credit cards, cash,” Lisa said. “We don’t know where those things are.”

Airport staff recovered more than 25,000 pieces of luggage, phones and other belongings after the shooting. The Coopers said their checked bags were waiting for them at the airport.

“We’re just going to be really thrilled to get home,” Lisa said.

The Coopers said they’ve filed reports on their missing carry-on bags. They’re not sure when they’ll get them back.

The shooting stranded about 12,000 people.

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