It was 35 seconds Sgt. Martin LeBlanc will never forget.

The Ottawa police officer was driving with a team of United Nations officers when their truck started to shake, and they began driving sideways. They had left work early to get ready for LeBlanc’s farewell party meant to celebrate his time in the small island nation.

At that moment, everything changed; a 7.0 magnitude earthquake had hit.

“As we stepped out of the truck, the ground was moving even more stronger and harder. We were trying to hold each other and hold ourselves on the vehicle and things were falling all over us,” LeBlanc told reporters in Ottawa on Tuesday.

"And I was just desperately hoping that this was going to stop."

When the earth stopped moving, the screams began. The capital of Haiti was in ruins. Wreckage was everywhere and dust hung in the air. People were begging for help.

LeBlanc was now digging through the rubble. He had no rescue equipment; not even a flashlight. Still, he managed to rescue three people.

His boss, however, did not survive. The bodies of Supt. Douglas Coates and another RCMP officer were recovered in the rubble days later. A funeral for Coates is planned for Wednesday.

"I’m sorry,” LeBlanc said, battling emotions. “I just would like to extend my deepest sympathy for his family and friends."

He described the disaster was a wake-up call, reminding him that family is what's important in life.

"I will live day by day from now on,” he said.

Despite the close call, LeBlanc said he will consider returning to the country.

"I have to look after my family, but the idea of going back is still very strong in my mind."

With a report from CTV Ottawa's Norman Fetterley