(NAIROBI, Kenya) -- When the assault on the Westgate Mall started, Nick Handler was sitting in a café in the Nairobi, Kenya, shopping center with his 2-year-old daughter. "All of a sudden I just heard a loud explosion followed by a few gun shots and I just immediately just grabbed her and luckily it was right by the door and we were able to sprint out of the cafe and ran across the mall," he told ABC News by phone.
At the same time, his wife Lyndsay -- eight months pregnant -- was one floor below. Amid the chaos, the family was separated. "That was just the most terrifying thing for her, just not being able to be with us and having no idea what was happening," Handler said.
Father and daughter hid in a storage room with about 40 other people. "I had been sort of tucked into the back corner with Julia trying to basically hide in the case somebody did come in there," he said. "We were about halfway across the room and then all of a sudden people started rushing back in and there were some screams so we all ran back.
"Aside from that initial explosion, this was probably the most terrifying moment, not knowing if perhaps the people who had left had encountered some of the attackers who were then coming into the area that we were hiding," Handler told us.
Young Julia spent the whole time pressed up against her dad's side.
"She was incredibly brave or she just didn't really know what was going on," he said.
His wife Lyndsay hid in the movie theater, then made it to the roof with another group. After hours of agonizing waiting, she was rescued by police who led her down a fire escape to safety.
About 90 minutes later, Nick Handler and Julia were rescued by plain clothes police.
Outside, the young family shared an emotional reunion.
"Just the look on her face, the emotion and I think all of the fear and the uncertainty that had been building up. She just let it all out. It was a pretty emotional moment for all of us," Handler said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio