A ticket to Barcelona, Spain was the graduation gift of a lifetime for Arnaldo Falcon, of New Haven. His father gave it to him to celebrate all Falcon’s accomplishments at Southern Connecticut State University.
On Thursday, Falcon and a friend, who is also from New Haven, were enjoying their first full day in the city when terror struck.
“Everyone was so calm, enjoying the scenes,” he said. “The weather was perfect.”
That serene scene was shattered by screams as a van came careening through the tourist hotspot of La Rambla and there was instant panic.
“It is just crazy. This all happened within not even five seconds -- me seeing the car, me having to run away, having to get past dead bodies on the floor,” Falcon said.
He was able to dodge the driver by jumping onto a vendor table.
Once the car passed him, he ran for safety and found himself at a nearby hotel.
“I think I was in so much shock that the only thing I was thinking was to get somewhere safe,” Falcon said.
He said he and others were kept inside as police worked to clear the scene.
As time passed, reality started to set in.
“The car passed three to four feet in front of me,” Falcon said.
Thirteen innocent people were killed and 100 others injured in the ISIS-claimed terrorist attack.
The morning after, Falcon said he is continuing his trip with a new appreciation for life.
“Definitely never going to forget this. Is is something that is going to be on my mind for a very long time,” he said.
Falcon’s friend was not injured in the attack.