ONLY ON ABC7NEWS.COM: From hostage to 'hero,' UPS driver describes life after ordeal

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- The UPS driver who survived an armed hijacking, police chase, and hostage standoff is sharing what life is like now.

In an exclusive interview with ABC7 News, Mitch Ellerd recalled each moment of that monumental day in detail. This included his final interaction with suspect, Mark Morasky.

"I had looked back in, and he had his head down and was crying," Ellerd said. "I just reached in and I patted him on his chest twice, and I just said, "You'll be alright, guy."

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Ellerd then exited the UPS truck and walked to safety. Suspect Morasky later ran from the truck with a gun in hand, and was shot dead by an officer.

While the nation watched developments unfold on television, Ellerd's family was only beginning to tune in. His wife, Michelle Ellerd, unaware of the situation her husband survived.

"I turned on the news. It was right as everything was ending, but I still wasn't able to get through to him on the phone," she told ABC7 News. "So I didn't know what had happened until right at the very end."

The "very end" is a moment Ellerd wasn't sure would come.

His story doesn't end with his release.

"When you have all these officers come up to you and in that kind of scenario it was so comforting," Ellerd said. "You knew you were okay."

He spent a portion of the interview thanking officers, his company and the community.

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When asked whether Ellerd felt for the suspect, he answered, "You know, my wife and I have talked about that a lot, and I knew you were going to ask me that question." After a few moments, he continued, "I'm not going to paint him out to be a monster."

Ellerd quickly went from hostage to hero. His calmness and critical thinking, praised by San Jose police.

"It's funny, people saying that he stayed calm, cool and collected," Ellerd's wife Michelle said. "That's just him."

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"I have no idea why I was able to be calm and collected, I don't know," Ellerd admitted. He explained he previously worked as a firefighter at the Denair Volunteer Fire Department and said his handling could be from his experience.

His instincts caught the attention of everyone involved in the massive response, including San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia.

"This guy's amazing," Chief Garcia said. "I really need to give him an application or something when this is done."

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Ellerd smiled and shared this response, "Right now, I'm going to stay with UPS. I love my job. I do. I love my job."

Ellerd has worked as a UPS driver for the last three years. It's a job he's eager to return to with time.

"Even talking about this whole situation, I have no problems. You know, I'm okay with it," he said. "It's just when I close my eyes, for whatever reason, you have nightmares."

Ellerd says to this day, he makes no judgment about the people who put his life at risk.
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