Students return after Spring Break scare

March 17, 2008 3:41:41 PM PDT
Some local college students are happy to be back home tonight. Their Spring Break fling in Mexico turned into anything but a break. The pictures from this vacation is one these students won't soon forget. Their hotel in Acapulco caught fire while many were asleep. Many were evacuated to a nightclub, their belongings damaged, missing or destroyed.

For them and for their anxious parents the return home today couldn't have come soon enough.

They cheered their return from Spring Break vacation. Their charter plane to Philadelphia was filled mostly with Penn State students returning from Acapulco, Mexico the day after surviving a fire in their hotel.

Students describe waking up to a smoky fire at around 6 a.m. yesterday, a few hours after a delayed flight home forced them to return to the Best Western Playa Suites for an extra night. Students took pictures as chaos at the high rise hotel unfolded.

Today, the relieved coeds shared details of the frightening ordeal.

Penn State student Stephanie Gironda tells us, "We woke up because we couldn't breath. I looked at her (referring to her friend). She was sleeping on the same bed as me, I couldn't even see her face. The smoke was so bad. I can't breath. Didn't know what to do."

"We ran down 14 flights of stairs in like 40 seconds I don't think I've ever run faster. I couldn't see anything. It was pitch black no lights. My lungs still hurt. I'm going to the doctor right now," said Brittany Porcek.

Many students are disturbed because they were awakened by smoke rather than alarms. They criticize Student City Vacations, saying students could have slept through the fire and been hurt or killed if the fire was worse.

"No fire alarm, no smoke detector, no sprinkler systems. I woke up to smell," says Doug Flynn.

Zach Noel says, "We opened the door to the hallway and couldn't see 10 feet. So we grabbed passports and ducked and ran out as fast as we could."

Students waited outside on the sidewalk, many slept in a nightclub where they'd partied a few nights ago... some complain of damaged or missing laptops, clothes and luggage.

Most are relieved to be safe at home.