Valerie Istre said she might not be alive if her friend hadn't dropped her sunglasses.
The mother of three from North Texas said she and her friend, who were vacationing in Barcelona, went into a store to buy new sunglasses just minutes before a van attack that left at least 14 people dead.
"We were in the store and people just started running past screaming," Istre said. "The sheer look of terror on everybody’s face, we knew something really bad had happened."
Istre she thought her life was about to end, so she sent what she thought would be one last picture to her 12-year-old daughter with the message "I miss you so much and I love you so, so, so much."
"I just had this thought that if I never saw her again, I wanted her to have this picture of my girlfriend and I walking the streets," she said. "I was smiling and I didn’t want my daughter to know anything was wrong, so I sent her the photo."
Istre says her survival instincts kicked in and she immediately called a friend, who happens to be a terrorism expert.
“The first thing he said was try to find a back exit," she said.
Istre and her friend looked for a back exit as the people in the store tried to close themselves off from the chaos. Istre realized that only one side of the store was locked down.
"On the whole opposite side, all those gates were still open," she said. "We told the store, 'Close these side doors.'"
Istre and her friend ended up being safely locked in the business for about three hours. She said this serves as an important reminder to always have a plan and a fully charged phone.
Istre is scheduled to return to Dallas next week and is looking forward to the reunion with her three children.