It started out as a picture perfect family vacation for a Los Angeles-based radio personality: Madrid, Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv and the beaches.
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But suddenly, escaping a war zone became part of the itinerary for KIIS-FM's Ellen K, her son Calvin and husband Roy Laughlin. They arrived in Jerusalem the day after a funeral for a Palestinian teen who was killed in a revenge attack for the murder of three Israeli teenagers.
"I really thought we weren't going to make it out," she said. "It was so frightening."
"I am seeing really a ghost town with rocks all over the streets, graffiti, trash cans and dumpsters on fire, smoke everywhere," she recalled. "(I was) thinking, 'Oh, no. This is really bad.'"
But she wouldn't know just how bad until a show at Tower of David that night.
"The air raid siren starts to go and frantic ushers are screaming at us to get out, get out, get out. Get into the bomb shelter," she said.
Ellen grabbed her son.
"I was telling him to run, let's hurry," she said. "I put myself over him and I said, 'You know we are going to be OK.'"
Their goal was to get out alive.
"While we were at the Tel Aviv airport begging for this flight, trying to work it out, there were probably three runs to the bomb shelter while we were waiting to get on the plane," Ellen K recalled. "The military is there running it. Until we were 10,000 feet in the air, we did not feel safe."
The family was able to return safely to their Hollywood Hills home.
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Ellen K is back at work as the longtime morning partner to Ryan Seacrest on KIIS-FM. But she pauses to reflect on the embattled land they left behind.
"The Palestinians we met, the Israelis we met - beautiful, wonderful, warm, loving people. On both sides, apologetic, (saying) 'Please come back, we're so sorry. You know this isn't your war, this is about us,'" she said.