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Costa Concordia Cruise Tragedy: Ananias Family Recounts The Horror (VIDEO)

Costa Concordia Cruise Tragedy

First Posted: 01/17/12 06:42 PM ET Updated: 01/17/12 08:14 PM ET

A family from Downey, Calif. found themselves among the last passengers to disembark from the ill-fated Costa Concordia cruise ship after it crashed and capsized on Friday night. Dean, Georgia, Valerie and Cindy Ananias aided families and children off the capsized barge and into life boats until the last possible moments. They recounted to HLN's Dr. Drew that their final moments on the ship were "terrifying."

After it was all over, the family made a pact with each other to use the experience to advocate for reform on cruise ships. Until then, all four are boycotting the industry until change happens. Georgia Ananias, the mother of the family, explained, "There was no leadership, there was no direction [during the evacuation]. A lot of lives were lost because there wasn't any help. Things need to change on cruise lines."

One of the major problems with the botched evacuation of the Costa Concordia, says Valerie Ananias, was the lack of communication in the aftermath of the impact. "Everything just went at a tilt" during dinner, said Valerie. "When I felt that, I knew this wasn't good." Still, as she watched her drink and dinner plate start tilting at impossible angles, Valerie described hearing on the loud speakers that the impact and violent shuddering of the ship's propellers was nothing more than an electrical problem. "Anyone in their right mind knows this is not just an electrical problem," said Valerie.

As the boat started leaning toward one side (it would eventually rest at a 90 degree angle), the Ananias family worked as a team to pull themselves to the highest point of the boat. "We were climbing against gravity to get up there," said Georgia. At one point, another couple handed Georgia their baby to hold because they thought they weren't going to make it.

Watch the rest of the video to see the harrowing choice Georgia had to make about the baby in her arms and check out CNN for the rest of the story.

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Rescuers work on the cruise ship Costa Concordia as lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio, on January 17, 2012 in Giglio Porto, Italy. More than four thousand people were on board when the ship hit a rock off the Tuscan coast. At least 11 people have been confirmed dead and another 24 missing. (Laura Lezza/Getty Images)
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Filed by Anna Almendrala  |