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Lillington siblings recall harrowing Japan trip

Posted March 14, 2011 2:02 p.m. EDT
Updated March 14, 2011 6:54 p.m. EDT

— Members of the Lillington-based gospel quartet, The Taylors, have reunited with family and friends after a harrowing spring break trip to Japan. 

Jonathan, 23, Suzanne, 21, and Leslie Taylor, 20, were standing on Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain, when an 9.0-magnitude earthquake hit on Friday. 

"At first, we thought it was wind, and we started looking at each other," Jonathan Taylor said Monday from the family's Lillington home. "We noticed the ground, and we were moving." 

The quake lasted about three or four minutes, he said. 

The main roads quickly shut down, forcing the group to take a bus down the winding mountain roads. The normal two-hour drive took 14 hours.

"All of the power was out. All of the cell phones were out. The only information we had came from this little TV on the bus that didn't even have good reception," he said. 

Thoughts soon turned to their family back home.

"We knew what they were seeing on the news and knew we had no way of communicating with them," Jonathan Taylor said. 

When they arrived back in Tokyo, they logged online to let their family know they were safe.

"We were crying. We were shouting. We were happy," their father, James Taylor, said. 

The siblings were able to book a flight - the first one out of Japan following the quake - but only had five hours to wade through the thick crowds waiting at the nearest train station. 

"It was lines as long as football fields. It was crazy," Jonathan Taylor said. 

A man emerged through the crowd and offered to guide them through the train stations and chaos. He got them to the airport just in time. 

"He took five hours out of his day to take us to the airport," Jonathan Taylor said. "(He) wouldn't even accept any payment. It was unbelievable. It was like an angel." 

The Taylor siblings are members of The Taylors. Their brother and fourth member of the group, Chris Taylor, opted not to go to Japan. He stayed behind in Lillington so he could propose to his girlfriend.