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Retired Sheriff’s Deputy, Wife Recall Surviving Terrifying Rollover Crash During 5.1 Quake

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CHINO HILLS (CBSLA.com) — A Southland couple is recounting the harrowing moment their car flipped over when Friday’s 5.1-magnitude earthquake rattled the region, triggering a rockslide.

Alex and Janis Yim were traveling on Carbon Canyon Road east of the 57 Freeway when the earth moved and boulders came tumbling down the hillside around them.

Alex Yim, a retired sheriff’s deputy, was choked up as he described what felt like a near-death experience.

COMPLETE COVERAGE: La Habra Quake

“I could hear her screams while we were jostled about in the car,” he said. “[What] I was experiencing [for] the first couple of days was – that I could have lost Janis.”

Janis and Alex say they didn’t feel the earthquake – but the aftermath was swift. Their BMW slammed into a boulder, then the hillside and flipped over.

“We turned a corner, and just boulders and rocks and dirt and everything coming at us there on the ground. It was just surreal,” Janis said.

The couple, from Chino Hills, was on their way to grab a burger for a little celebration.

Alex had just retired from the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department after 32 years, and says his training helped him to maintain composure. Janis also stayed calm. They both were able to get out of the car on their own.

“When I yelled over at Janis, ‘Janis are you ok?’ She goes, ‘I’m out,’ – and she goes, ‘I think I’m ok.’ My heart leapt – nothing else mattered at that point,” Alex said.

The Yims say their strong faith helped guide them through the ordeal. They were also guided by memories of their 31-year-old son, who died of brain cancer almost two years ago. The couple believes they were spared for a reason.

“I didn’t even come out with a scratch – Alex had a couple bruises. I didn’t have a scratch,” she said. “So you know the hand of God was on us, there’s a plan and a purpose for us.”

The Yims also said they were inspired by the Good Samaritans who stopped on the road to help them and put themselves in danger to make sure they were okay.

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