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Colo. Haiti survivor comes home; no sign of companion

11:56 PM, Jan 19, 2010   |    comments
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Dan Woolley has been recovering in Miami following his rescue. The Colorado Springs man was trapped underneath the rubble of the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince for more than 60 hours.

He arrived at Denver International Airport around 9 p.m. and says he's doing great.

"I'm healing well, I spent a couple of days with my wife and I'm alive and I'm going home to see my boys," Woolley said.

He has a head injury and a broken foot. He says while he was trapped in the wreckage of an elevator shaft, he wrote notes to his sons, thinking he would never see them again.

"I begged God. You know, God, please bring me back to my wife and my boys and I felt like God wasn't done with what he'd given me yet," Woolley said. "I had a journal with me and I wrote goodbye notes. I was under there for a couple of days and so I didn't want to not - you know there were some things that were unsaid that needed to be said."

Woolley and his colleague, David Hames, also of Colorado Springs, were working on a documentary in Haiti for Compassion International.

"One moment we were walking up to our hotel room and the next moment, just everything exploded and it felt like the ground was exploding around us and the walls started falling and he [Hames] yelled, 'It's an earthquake,' and I looked for some place safe to go but there was no place safe and so we just each lunged in a direction and then all of a sudden just darkness," Woolley said.

Hames is still missing.

His wife spoke with the media earlier on Tuesday and says the past few days have involved a lot of ups and downs.

"Last night [Monday] was kind of a low point, 'cause I heard they had stopped the rescue and it became a recovery. And I'm like, 'No, that's just wrong,'" Renee Hames said. "And then, I guess it was about 8:30 last night, I heard that they had made a rescue again. So it was pretty joyful at our house. That they heard tappings and signs of life."

She says the hardest part for her is thinking about the possibility of having to move forward without knowing her husband's fate, but she is trying to remain optimistic.

"We just still hold out hope. We hear that there are still signs of life in the Hotel Montana, that the rescuers are still working hard," Woolley said. "I don't know why it's working out the way it is right now, but we still just hope and pray that a miracle will happen and believe in that."

Woolley says he and Hames went to Haiti because of the poverty and they wanted to shine a light on that.

"Here was a horrible earthquake but made three or five times more horrible because of the poverty and the lack of infrastructure there," Woolley said.

He says while he was trapped in the rubble, he thought a lot about his family and his priorities.

"I still have a lot of work to do. You know that journal that I started there is helpful and it got me started, but there's a lot of things to say," he said.

He says he would eventually go back to Haiti.

"Sure love the people there and the needs are so great and if my going there could help shine a light on that then I would definitely do that," Woolley said.

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