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Colorado Couple Safely Flees Libya

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Ernie and BJ Diller (credit: CBS)

Ernie and BJ Diller (credit: CBS)

DENVER (CBS4) – A Colorado couple who had been teaching in Libya is now out of the country.

They were among thousands of people who have been fleeing the unrest there.

Some are packing buses while hundreds of Americans got away by boat. BJ and Ernie Diller were among 200 Americans that used a boat to travel from Tripoli to Malta.

It was a 221 mile ride away from the violence in Libya. At times, the escape called for patience.

“I had two flights booked and neither one left, so they were all cancelled before we even got there,” Ernie Diller said.

After the Dillers found a way out, their US chartered ferry was stuck in Tripoli for three days because of bad weather. Once on the boat, it still wasn’t easy.

“The boat coming here was very rough and there were a lot of sick people,” Ernie said.

The couple’s daughter Angie Debolt in Idaho kept track of them on the ferry by using Skype.

In Denver, friends followed their exodus through the Internet. Online the Dillers described a phone call they received at 2:40 a.m. on Monday. The phone call told them to bring a bag and that they needed to leave Libya immediately.

Angie finally learned her parents had arrived in Malta by watching them on TV.

“I actually saw my dad walk by on the screen. A big weight was lifted off my shoulders. It was wonderful,” Angie said.

One of BJ’s friends June Jose said it didn’t surprise her that the couple took a job on the sometimes violent continent of Africa.

“You’re talking about somebody who bungee jumped out of hot air balloons,” Jose said.

BJ Diller taught 2nd and 4th grade at Bill Roberts School in Denver.

“She was one of our most creative and technology savvy people,” said Ruth Baldivia the Assistant Principal at the Bill Roberts School.

Ernie taught history at Chaparral High School in Parker.

For the Dillers, teaching overseas was an adventure.

“She’d post pictures all the time of what’s happening, what trip they went on, what their kids are like,” Baldivia said.

Family and friends tell CBS4 the Dillers have also taught in Colombia and Bangladesh. They said that knowing the Dillers, as soon as calm returns to Libya, they’ll be on the next flight back.

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