It's Sunday night at Louisville International Airport, and Sarah Moore of Bowling Green is waiting as patiently as she can. She's standing still, occasionally rising on her toes to peek through a security checkpoint. Behind her are friends and family holding signs and flowers and waiting patiently, too. Finally, Sarah Moore sees her, and Lauren Moore walks straight to her mother. The daughter carries only a small Nike bag from a retail store. Mother and daughter embrace. Hugs are exchanged. The relief is evident on the face of the concerned mother - Lauren Moore, 28, of Bowling Green is home.
"I'm elated," Sarah Moore said. "I'm elated that she's here."
Only about 53 hours before Lauren Moore's arrival in Louisville, she was on a cruise ship off the coast of Italy. Then, crisis and tragedy struck - the liner, the Costa Concordia, ran aground and capsized Friday. Lauren Moore survived the accident - which resulted in the deaths of at least six people - but she was stranded with only the clothes on her back, a cell phone and a wallet. She was half a world away from home without a passport.
Sarah Moore said Lauren Moore arrived in Louisville wearing the same clothes she wore when she was rescued. Lauren Moore and four friends were booked on a 10-day Mediterrenean cruise aboard the ship. The trip had been planned for more than a year.
"We are all very excited to be home and very thankful for everyone at home and in Italy who helped get us home," Lauren Moore said at the airport. "It took a lot of people to get us here and we appreciate it."
Lauren Moore, a Bowling Green High School graduate who is pursuing a teaching degree at Western Kentucky University, hugged her sister, her father and friends who made the trip to Louisville to greet her as she got off her Delta Airlines flight late Sunday night. Several members of the media covered the homecoming of the few passengers with Kentucky ties with whom Lauren Moore was traveling.
But Lauren Moore isn't quite ready to share the details of the night the ship sank or about how she got back to the United States in such a short amount of time.
"We had a lot of help getting home," Lauren Moore said.
The scene on the boat as it went down was "scary and it was chaotic," Lauren Moore said.
She's understandably anxious to get home. Her mother brought items to comfort her, including a blanket, a pillow, pajamas and house slippers.
The others in her traveling party were greeted by family members as well. One passenger told his family he'd had only one eye contact lens since the accident and had been alternating the lens between eyes every few hours.
Sarah Moore, however, has plenty to share. She's been keeping abreast of Lauren Moore's whereabouts via occasional calls and text messages. She's not surprised by the strength Lauren Moore displayed throughout the ordeal.
"She is a strong young woman," Sarah Moore said. "She knows what to do."
Based on a few brief conversations, Sarah Moore believes Lauren Moore got herself onto a lifeboat, but she isn't sure how her daughter got to the U.S. Embassy. Lauren Moore began her journey home early Sunday morning, flying from Rome to Paris to Atlanta and finally to Louisville.
"She does like to travel and she's smart, but no one is prepared for this type of thing," Sarah Moore said. "So she's savvy in many ways - this is nothing that's been experienced before and hopefully never again."
It's tough to estimate when Lauren Moore would have gotten home had she not taken action immediately following the accident. For instance, Sarah Moore said she received a call from the cruise line Sunday that it wanted to start working on booking
Lauren Moore a flight home.
Before Lauren Moore's arrival Sunday, Sarah Moore recounted the
weekend, starting with 6:18 p.m. Friday, when she got the first call about the cruise ship accident.