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VICTIM RECALLS WAVE OF EARTH.

Byline: Patricia Farrell Aidem Staff Writer

VALENCIA - At first, April Bernal thought an earthquake was shaking the La Conchita beach house where she was staying while attending school in Santa Barbara.

Then a horrifying reality hit.

``I realized it was a mudslide,'' Bernal said Tuesday, resting at her Valencia home. ``I knew there was one before on that mountain - I didn't know it was 10 years ago. I knew it had been raining for a while. I was a little worried and I tried to get out.''

Bernal was buried inside one of the last homes hit by Tuesday's killer mudslide in the small oceanfront community north of Ventura. She suffered a gash to her leg and received 16 stitches.

``I just started screaming and screaming until someone heard me,'' she said, guessing she had been buried in rubble about half an hour. ``A man who was a nurse, he just got off shift and he came home and saw the slide and he ran up on instinct to help me.''

Bernal doesn't know her rescuer's name. She's foggy about what happened, though she remembers she was relaxing on a couch upstairs in the vacation home owned by family friends in Santa Clarita, who allowed her to stay there.

She said she felt the house quiver and tried to get out.

``I think I ended up by the stairs,'' she said. ``I had my cell phone, but I don't remember picking it up.'' Pinned against a wall, she was unable to manipulate the phone to call for help. Bernal said she caught a glimpse of what was left of the three-bedroom house as she rode away with another victim in an ambulance. The home was among those destroyed.

Bernal, who graduated in June from Valencia High, attends the Brooks Institute, a private photography, film and graphic design college.

Luis Bernal was still shaking on Tuesday, a day after bringing his daughter home from a Ventura hospital.

``I think we're in shock,'' he said. ``We just took her back on Sunday for school.''

Patricia Farrell Aidem, (661) 257-5251

pat.aidem(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Jan 12, 2005
Words:352
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