Haiti earthquake victim from Arlington in hospital in Florida

A piece of table likely saved an Arlington missionary from dying beneath the rubble of Tuesday’s devastating earthquake in Haiti.

Tens of thousands of people perished in the magnitude 7 earthquake that flattened entire neighborhoods, schools and hospitals.

Katie Zook, 22, was rescued from one of those collapsed buildings.

In an e-mail provided by her family, Katie Zook described her narrow escape.

“In Washington in school, they teach us to stand in a doorway or under a desk or table, but the doorway I was in was just wall with a hole in it so I dove under a table,” she said.

“When they dug me out, I could feel them pulling the rocks off of my back and shoulders but a piece of the table had kept the rocks from enclosing around my head and made an air pocket for me to breathe.”

Zook was recovering in a Fort Lauderdale, Fla., hospital Friday. Her parents and two brothers had flown there from Washington to be by her side.

Family members said Zook needed to have her lungs reinflated and required a chest tube. Doctors are closely monitoring bruising to her spleen and liver.

By Friday, the swelling to her face had gone down enough for her to smile. Swelling to her leg had to be reduced surgically.

Zook has a deep interest in helping people in Haiti. It is widely considered the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere. Her interest started in 2004 when she joined her dad, an associate pastor with the Arlington Free Methodist Church, on an trip to Haiti, where they helped lay a foundation for a church.

The Zooks have helped build schools and churches and have worked with hospitals.

While at Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho, she organized trips with classmates to help in Haiti.

In September, Zook began what was to be a two-year mission. She was based in a suburb of Port-au-Prince, the Caribbean nation’s capital, where she taught English to seminary students and helped missionaries. She lived in a guest house near the missionary headquarters and church in Delmas.

Eric Stevick: 425-339-3446, stevick@heraldnet.com.

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