Crews Check Washington Monument for Cracks

Crews Check Washington Monument for Cracks

"I didn't think I was going to make it out alive!" said Park Ranger Nikolette Williams.

Williams is talking about the terrifying moments on the observation deck of the Washington Monument during last month's earthquake.

She spoke about the ordeal as engineers repelled down the monument Tuesday in an effort to locate more cracks in one of the nation's most beloved structures.
Williams was on duty on the observation deck when the 55-storey monument began to violently shake.

"It was shaking so violently that it's rocking me back and forth, and throwing me into the railing of the stairwell itself," said Williams

Dramatic video from security cameras shows people dodging falling masonry.

A woman grabbed hold of a column for support as debris rained down on her.

"There were chunks of marble coming out," said WIlliams.

Williams kept her head and shouted to a group of 20 tourists to get down the stairs as quickly as possible.  

One woman fell at the top of the stairs as the screaming crowd fled.

"I yelled out, 'Go down the stairs, go down the stairs,' and once I yelled that out, people started to follow me and they began to yell it as well," said Williams.

One dad was desperately searching for his son, who was separated from him in the panic.

Brave Williams went back up another staircase to make sure the observation deck was clear before finally escaping herself.  

The father came back up the stairs still frantically searching for his son, but they were reunited outside.

"I'm proud I was able to get those people out safe and alive," said Williams.