Fort Lauderdale

FLL Airport Attack Survivor Credits Man Who Saved Her

A survivor of the Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood Airport attack says there are just not enough words to thank the man who saved her life Friday.

"I just prayed to god that my children would have a mother," she said.

Annika Dean says she'll never forget the moment she spotted 26-year-old Esteban Santiago at the Fort Lauderdale airport.

"I was terrified," Dean said. "He was walking towards us."

Dean was standing in the baggage claim are of Terminal three Friday afternoon when investigators say the loan shooter opened fire, killing five innocent people.

"I knew immediately that it was gun fire," Dean said. "There's no way we could of evacuated."

She's a teacher with Broward Public Schools teacher and has experienced two training sessions for active shooter scenarios.

"I did not only what I was trained to do through Broward Public Schools but I did what I was trained to do all my life ... and that was just to pray."

Another blessing, the man in this picture— Tony Bartoesavitz from Rochester, New York. While she was hiding behind carts and dropping to the floor, Tony, a man she never met acted as a shield.

"As I was praying a man laid on top of me shielded my body and said I will protect you." she explained. "The minute Tony shielded me, I knew I wouldn't be harmed. He brought me instant comfort."

She spoke with him immediately afterwards but never got his name, and as it turns out they're closer than she first thought.

"I found out that night that his nephew has been friend's with my cousin Amy since 1984," she said.

This mother of two credits his selfless act with saving her life.

"Like a true hero," Dean said. "And a guardian angel."

Contact Us