New Castle woman survives Italy cruise ship disaster

Erika Abbott
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Updated: .

A central Indiana woman is among the survivors of a major cruise ship disaster.

The $500 million Costa Concordia capsized when it ran aground into rocks off Italy's Tuscan coast.

The deadly accident killed at least 11 people, and 21 passengers remained missing as of Wednesday.

It is a tragedy at sea Tom Abbott's mother survived.

"She was getting off the next day. That was her last night there," Abbott said.

71-year-old Erika Abbott of New Castle was just finishing a seven-day Mediterranean cruise when the accident happened.

Tom and his siblings didn't even know she was on that specific cruise, the Costa Concordia, until days after it ran aground.

Tom's brother first called with the news.

"He goes, 'Bro, she was on that boat!' I said, 'What are you telling me?' 'she was on that boat!' And I was like, what? Are you serious? Yeah, we were shocked," Abbott said.

Later, Tom's mother described in detail to him, the confusion as the ship crashed and started to sink.

"She said they announced there was nothing to be alarmed about. It was an electrical problem or something like that," Abbott explained, "And then finally the alarms went off. She actually felt and heard glass falling and that's when she knew there was some kind of a problem going on."

Erika Abbott's stateroom was on the side of the ship that's now underwater.

But it was also close to the lifeboats, which proved to be a life saver.

"She was blessed because she was only a story or two from the boats, so she was one of the first ones to get off the boat. She said they took good care of her. They gave them blankets once they got on the island. She was cold. She didn't have her jacket. All her stuff was in the room. So she lost her passport. She lost everything," Abbott said.

Tom says this was his mother's first, and last cruise.

He's never taken one himself.

"Nope! Don't think I will either," Abbott said.

Now he's just thankful his mother lived through this.

He says she did hurt her leg while getting into the lifeboat, but otherwise, she's okay.

She's now in Germany, finishing vacation time with extended family, and will be back home in Indiana in March.