Former Senator and Governor Evan Byah and his wife were in New Zealand when the 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck Christchurch. Bayh was attending a political conference in Christchurch.
Byah landed in Washington D.C. from New Zealand this afternoon, and then made his way to South Bend to give a speech at Notre Dame tonight.
"It's the kind of thing in life that nothing prepares you for," Byah said.
He was overseas and in the middle of it all.
“For the first few seconds it was, this was interesting, this would make for a good story when I got home."
But that good story turned into a matter of life and death. The vivid images of that day are ingrained in his mind.
“One of the people from New Zealand said, you gotta get under the table, there were pieces from the ceiling that were hitting the table."
The death toll has now past 100.
“I’m just very lucky," Bayh said.
Bayh's wife was shopping in a different area of town when the quake hit.
“She was in the worst hit area," Bayh said.
He didn't have any way of knowing where she was.
“We got a text saying the hotel had been evacuated and people had been hurt," he said. "I’m thinking uh oh."
Byah started walking to find her and then received a message that Susan was OK.
“I finally got to her 6 hours later," he said.
Once reunited with his wife, they immediately left for the airport.
“We got out with the clothes on our back and that's ok," he said.
Bayh commends the people of New Zealand saying they are resilient.
“They were exhibiting the same kind of togetherness that we showed following 9-11," he said.
Bayh and his wife feel lucky to be home, safe and sound.
“My heart and my prayers go out to the people in Christchurch who have lost loved ones," he said.
Bayh says this entire event has put life into perspective for him.