On Jan. 12, Mr. McGarrell stopped off at the Hotel Peace of Mind here with an American friend, Sue Frame, to get online and have lunch.
When the quake struck, Ms. Frame, a 35-year-old Chicago artist, yelled 'run.' They both bolted for the door, but Mr. McGarrell ran back for something, likely his computer, said Ms. Frame.
For days, Ms. Frame, Mr. Chery, and others dug into the debris. They quickly found the corpse of another person, but they couldn't find Mr. McGarrell's body.
After five days, a team of search-and-rescue workers from the Bogotà, Colombia, fire department took over. On Tuesday, almost a week to the minute after the quake struck, Mr. McGarrell's cadaver was finally found.
Ms. Frame and Mr. Chery spent that night on the airport tarmac, next to a body bag holding the remains of their friend. 'I just experienced the worst week of my life,' said Ms. Frame, sitting on the tarmac, smoking a cigarette. 'But I also experienced an incredible amount of love. Now I know why Flo loved this place.'
On Wednesday, more than 200 people from three continents attended a memorial service for Mr. McGarrell at the Maryland Institute College of Art.