Michigan couple recalls Italian cruise ship wreck

Published On: Jan 16 2012 09:46:44 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 16 2012 05:09:18 PM EST

Steve and Kathy Ledtke will never forget this "vacation," and for all the wrong reasons.


A Fort Gratiot, Mich., couple was on the Italian cruise ship that ran aground Saturday near Italy's western coast.

Kathy and Steve Ledtke's dream vacation was not supposed to end that way.

"It was complete chaos, and it was every man for himself," Kathy Ledtke said. "Nobody knew where to go. Nobody was in charge."


On Friday, the couple was embarking on a seven-day cruise near Italy's coast. For three and 1/2 hours it was smooth sailing aboard the Costa Concordia.

Then, in a matter of minutes, the Ledtkes' world took a turn for the worst, literally.

"We heard a thud, and you could just hear the whole boat shook," said Steve Ledtke.

Steve and Kathy were inside a restaurant having dinner when the ship struck a bed of rocks. They were among the more than 4,000 people trapped inside the sinking ship.

"I was kind of surprised. The overhead was advising people to go to the theatre or to their rooms," Steve said. "I mean, it was obvious to me the boat was going to go down."

The Ledtkes said the cruise line never conducted an evacuation drill.

"The second mistake was definitely keeping us sitting there for an hour and 1/2 without getting us off the ship," Kathy said.

When the evacuation finally did happen, the Ledtkes' said it was nothing but unorganized chaos.

"They kept adding them and they were desperate people so we wanted them on there, but on the other hand it was like get this boat down and get us away from this ship," Kathy said.

Several people were killed and more were injured. Some are still unaccounted for. Kathy and Steve escaped with just the clothes on their backs.

"It should have been an enjoyable, wonderful trip and this was just a bad choice, bad decision for that captain," Kathy said.

The Ledtkes had an emotional reunion with their daughter at the airport Monday in Michigan.

The couple is pointing the blame on the captain, who has been arrested, becuse they said it was obvious the ship was too close to the shore.


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