The lamp-posts slapped back and forward and the street snaked. The tremors were scary, but lasted only 15 seconds and Mr Talbot didn't think too much of it. But then he arrived home - and heard people were trapped at the coffee roasters. Mr Talbot ran back into town. The quake had reduced the central business district to rubble, killing three people. The historic Pacific Garden Mall, the pulse of the town, was a mash of bricks and glass.
When he arrived at Santa Cruz Coffee Roasting, he saw the building had crumpled under two metres of bricks, which had rained down from the next-door bookshop. Mr McCormick was dead. The shouts of Ms Ortiz's friends calling her name echoed around downtown for two days before her body was finally found.