The Ritkes family thought they were taking a memorable vacation to Spain, but the trip proved to be much more than intended.
Gary and Sonia Ritkes and their children must have been relieved to arrive at Miami International Airport today. The family, who lives in Weston, were taking a 10-day vacation when an alleged terrorist attack struck just feet away from where they were gathered.
Sonia Ritkes was giving a police report after someone tried to steal items from her purse, but was interrupted as noises from the deadly Barcelona attack began unfolding – right in front of their eyes.
As Gary and Sonia rushed to safely locate their children, they saw what they described as a “stampede” of people running in their direction. It happened quickly, they report, and say they new immediately that they were witnessing an act of terrorism.
The family took shelter in a Barcelona cafe, huddled under a bar area they hoped was safe. Holding hands, they watched others hide under tables, chairs, anything they could find. They were even able to capture some of the nightmarish incident on video.
“It was screaming. It was chaos. It was SWAT teams all over the place in front and we were able to see out of the windows and all the police were frantically running around. They were all on their walkie talkies,” said Gary Ritkes.
At one point, they realized they were seeing bodies. The parents speculate that if they had not been giving a police report, they most likely would have been in the direct path of the van that deliberately rammed into a massive crowd of people in Las Ramblas, killing at least 13, and wounding more than 100.
One American, 42-year-old Jared Tucker of California who was on his honeymoon, was confirmed to be among those killed.
The attack was allegedly carried out by a Moroccan-born terror cell, rumored to have been planning further attacks at popular tourist spots.
The key suspect, 17-year-old Moussa Oukabir, was one of five terrorists shot dead by Spanish police authorities confirmed.
The Ritkes family says that despite the horrifying attack, they will continue to travel internationally.