Bay Area father hears from son after Nepal quake

Amy Hollyfield Image
ByAmy Hollyfield KGO logo
Wednesday, April 29, 2015
Bay Area dad hears from son after Nepal quake
After an agonizing few days without contact, a Petaluma father finally received good news that his son is alive after the deadly quake that hit Nepal.

PETALUMA, Calif. (KGO) -- After going days without contact, a Bay Area father finally received good news that his son is alive after the deadly quake that hit Nepal this past Saturday.

"I still don't know exactly where he is, except that he was alive and sounded calm and strong," said Bob Dickinson.

VIDEO: San Francisco family awaits return of mom trapped on Mt. Everest

Spencer Dickinson, 21, was hiking toward Mount Everest last week when he got caught up in quake-triggered avalanches.

Bob says this has been the most terrifying experience of his life. So you can imagine the elation he felt when he got that phone call at 7:52 p.m. on Tuesday. And yes, he knows the exact minute that call came in.

"He said, 'Hi dad!' Those were the first words. And I was screaming! He goes, 'Dad be quiet, I'm on sat phone, I've only got a couple moments. Call my mom, tell her I'm okay,'" said Bob.

PHOTOS: Inside the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake

So he still doesn't know if the 21-year-old is hurt or if he's safe, but he knows he's alive.

Spencer's family knew he was headed to Mount Everest's base camp right before the earthquake. His dad says it was terrifying to see the video from base camp that came out of there when that earthquake hit. He has had some sleepless nights of worrying. And as time went by, he says the waiting was getting more difficult.

He did call Spencer's mom right away, she lives in San Diego. Cameras were rolling when she got the joyful news.

"That was pure joy," Bob said. "Spencer's mom and I haven't been together for a long time, (but) we still have a lot of love and a bond for our children. And it was reunited there to just feel that sense of joy that only a parent can feel for their child."

Bob says his faith in a higher power helped get him through the agonizing wait.

When asked what brought Spencer to Nepal, he says his son has been traveling the world by himself on a spiritual journey since October. So he's not sure if Spencer will come home right away or keep traveling. But he would like for him to come straight home. Bob says he'd like to give his son a huge homecoming celebration.

In the meantime, a San Francisco family is awaiting the return of Siobhan McFeeney, who is stuck at a base camp awaiting evacuation. Her case is more urgent than most because she has a bad chest infection due to altitude sickness. Her husband and four children say they're staying optimistic.

READ MORE: How you can help Nepal quake victims

The death toll has continued to rise since the devastating quake. Now, 5,150 deaths are being blamed on the quake in Nepal, India, and China. Almost 7,500 of the roughly 10,000 injured remain hospitalized.

All climbers have now left Everest, ending the climbing season early.

The United Nations predicts $415 million in aid will be needed in Nepal over the next three months.

And in a small sign that life is slowly returning to normal, banks in Katmandu opened for a few hours on Wednesday to long lines of people desperate for cash as they try to recover.

Click here to find out how you can help the victims in Nepal, and click here for full coverage on the devastating quake.