UNO Swim Team lunch break kept team from attacks

Posted at 5:41 PM, Jan 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-07 20:47:27-05

A Council Bluffs man was one of the five people gunned down inside the Florida airport.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Elizabeth Oehme-Miller confirmed that her brother 57-year-old Michael Oehme was killed and that his wife Kari was shot in the shoulder and is expected to survive.

Oehme-Miller says her brother and sister-in-law were in Fort Lauderdale getting ready for a Caribbean cruise that was supposed to start Saturday.

She says they traveled frequently they loved cruises and were happy to be headed on another one.

Kari's company sent out this statement...

"We can confirm that Kari Oehme is a CommScope employee and works in our Omaha, Nebraska facility. CommScope is doing everything it can to assist the family, as well as CommScope employees, during this difficult time. Our deepest sympathy goes out to everyone affected by this tragic event."

The Oehme family were not the only people with local ties down at the Ft. Lauderdale airport when the shooting started.

The UNO swimming and diving team was at the airport getting ready to come back to Omaha--until the deadly attack took place.

It was not the return trip the UNO swim and diving team ever expected.

The team was Key West Florida on their annual winter training trip heading back to the Fort Lauderdale airport to come home.

But took an unexpected stop for lunch-which could have been life-changing.

“I feel it was a blessing for us because we arrived after the shooting occurred,” said UNO head swim coach Todd Samland.

He said when the team arrived at the airport they didn't see anything suspicious except for a few police cruisers.

“It did not seem frantic at all, there were still cars driving up dropping people off. Still people mingling around at that point,” said Samland.

But about 20 minutes later Samland saw a speeding police cruiser-to the terminal. The police yelling everybody to run.

“Go to the other air terminal, don't take your bags leave everything start running,” said Samland.

The coach was frantic, didn't know what to think, “What's hard is you don't have a why so you don't know why you are running.”

Samland and his assistant coach were separated from his team-as the swimmers were faster runners.

“And so they were out in front of me and it was not very much time in between that i made it inside the terminal  and there was nobody in the terminal,” said Samland.

Hours passed, Samland and his team-locked in--hoping his team was alright, “I wanted to make sure my wife knew I was okay and I wanted to know where my team was.”

Luckily through text, he was able to confirm everybody was safe and sound.

“There was just a lot of consternation and angst on my part on not knowing where they were,” said Samland.

When the all-clear was given late in the day-relief comes over the fear felt for hours.

“It was just like a weight taken off your shoulder kind of thing I felt a lot better,” said Samland.

The team will arrive in Omaha on Sunday.