Official recognition for Mike Kubeisy’s heroic acts during the Northridge earthquake was 19 years in the making, but on Tuesday he was finally honored for saving five people, including an LAPD officer, from a collapsed apartment complex during the historic, deadly event.
"I felt great that I was able to help, but I wonder how I would've felt if I had turned my back on them," Kubeisy said. "That's the thing I don't want to live with."
The Jan.17, 1994, temblor in Northridge killed 57 people. Some of the dead and injured were Kubeisy's neighbors.
When the earth shook at 4:31 a.m. on Jan. 17, 1994, Kubeisy survived. He realized, almost immediately, that others were still in danger.
"There was a tear in the building, in the wall, and I went through it and I never got scathed or anything," Kubeisy recalled. "It was a miracle. Amazing."
In the chaos that followed the quake, Kubeisy found somebody with a chain ladder. One by one, he helped his neighbors escape, among them LAPD Officer Joseph Jordan, who went on to rescue many others that day.
Kubeisy also saved a woman named Patricia that he’d only known in passing.
"There was a lady, alone, on the first floor who died," said Patricia Kubeisy. "And when I came out, and realized that her unit wasn't standing, I was really, really upset."
Patricia and Mike are now married, and have two sons.
"If the good Lord wanted to shake the earth to get me to meet this woman, then so be it," Kubeisy said.
Patricia Kubeisy summed up her feelings in just a few words: "I'm just so very proud of him."