Downey Couple Survives Cruise Ship Ordeal | NBC Southern California

Downey Couple Survives Cruise Ship Ordeal

Dean and Georgia Ananias are back in Downey

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    A Downey couple is back home after surviving the Costa Concordia cruise ship disaster (Published Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2012)

    In the midst of the screams, the tilting floors and the blackouts aboard the Costa Concordia, Georgia Ananias recalled a surreal moment.

    An Argentinian couple handed her their three-month-old daughter, hoping she could help the baby survive.

    "I thought they wanted me to just take the baby temporarily," recalled Ananias. "No, they were giving me the baby."

    It happened after the Costa Concordia had begun its slide into shipwreck infamy. The Ananias family of Downey were trying to survive, as well. Their lifeboat was malfunctioning.

    Ananias recalls making her way to the top of a stairway, clinging to a banister to get as high up on the vessel as possible.

    "I was getting crunched and thought the baby would just fall down the stairwell," she remembers.

    After several agonizing minutes, she handed the child back to her father, thinking he had the best chance of saving the baby.

    She doesn't know what happened to the Argentinians.

    "I wish I knew," she says softly.

    Many stories of bravery and survival are being told by families who have escaped the disaster. It's hard to avoid the comparisons to stories most people have heard about the Titanic.

    Ananias believes the captain and crew did not do their job.

    "You did not see one officer there," she says. "People did not know how to do anything; it was very disorganized."

    The ship apparently ran aground at about 9:30 p.m Friday, says Dean Ananias. But the ordeal went on for what seemed like an eternity.

    He says, between the malfunctioning lifeboat, the disorganized response and the family's eventual walk across the outer side of the ship to safety, about five hours had passed.

    They were finally safe on the Island of Gigolo by 2:30 a.m.

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