WESTON (CBSMiami) – The Ritkes family from Weston was enjoying their final day of a 10-day European vacation in Barcelona on Thursday when a small crisis unfolded.
A family member saw a thief try to pickpocket from their mother. The family got the attention of two police officers and was dealing with them and the suspected thieves when they heard people screaming.
It was the immediate aftermath of a suspected terrorist attack that left dozens dead and injured near historic Las Ramblas Avenue. Beau and Justin Ritkes said the theft likely saved the family of six from death of serious injury.
“If that hadn’t happened, we would have been walking on the street where the terrorists drove the van,” Justin said.
“Because that happened we were 25 feet away, thank God,” Beau said.
After the attack, the family of six ran for cover. Another sibling got separated from the group.
“We lost my little brother for a brief moment,” Beau said. “He got shoved into a pole, he hit his head, lost his glasses. Me and my dad ran back and my dad grabbed him.”
Once reunited, the family wound up in a nearby cafe with other tourists.
“Everyone’s crying, everyone’s on the floor, under tables and it was mayhem,” Beau said.
The brothers recorded video in the cafe showing people huddled and hiding behind food cases and equipment. You can hear police officers outside the cafe walking and shouting to one another. Later, once the scene was settled the police led the family to their hotel.
“We actually saw four bodies in body bags and that was quite an image I’ll never forget,” Beau said.
Others from South Florida were also in Barcelona. Jessica Blank and Nick Gerson, both from Miami-Dade, were in a cab near the scene of the attack.
“It was just really chaotic and the police were yelling at cabs to keep moving and the cab driver stopped and Nick just told him, ‘Listen, go! Just drive! Just go! Get out of here,’” Jessica said.
The carnage in the streets left an impression on all who saw it. Justin Ritkes offered this message.
“Tell your loved ones that you love them all the time, make sure they know because you never know when something like this can happen,” Justin said.
The Ritkes family expects to return to South Florida Friday afternoon.