An Ashland High graduate trapped at a mall in Costa Rica during an earthquake Wednesday turned the event into an opportunity after a photo from her Instagram account of the quake's aftermath was sent out worldwide.
Callie McCoy, a 2010 Ashland High graduate, moved to Costa Rica in mid-August.
A student at Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colo., McCoy is studying abroad for a semester at La Universidad Nacional in Heredia, Costa Rica.
McCoy, 20, described the 7.6 magnitude earthquake, which surprisingly caused minimal damage, as the "weirdest feeling I've ever felt."
"The only way I can explain it is it started out like a wave and then turned into a shake. I've never felt so out of control and helpless in my life," she said in a Facebook message Thursday.
"The earth was shaking, the building was shaking, and there was nothing I could do about it. I wasn't really scared by any means, it was just an indescribable feeling.
After the shaking subsided, McCoy walked through the San Jose mall and, largely for comic relief, snapped a photo of a trashed video movie store on her phone, using the popular Instagram photography app.
Not long after, McCoy said an editor from the Latin American Associated Press commented on her photo, requesting contact information and permission to publish it.
In addition to various web publications, the photo has been republished by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Eugene Register Guard.
"What was wild was how they found this picture. I had been walking through the mall and all the stuff was everywhere. I felt bad for whoever was going to have to clean it up and, out of comic relief, I snapped a picture and hashtagged it 'earthquake.'
"I wouldn't consider myself a photographer by any means. Instagram makes simple pictures cool and I like documenting where I go, places I see."
She added, "I think the coolest part was how cool it was that they used hashtags to find me through social networking. It really says something about how we communicate in this day and age."
Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at email@example.com.