On the afternoon of Jan. 12, Ottawa police Sgt. Martin LeBlanc and his colleagues left the UN headquarters in Port-au-Prince to celebrate the end of his nine-month peacekeeping mission in Haiti.

Minutes later, a devastating earthquake struck, collapsing the building.

At times wiping away tears, LeBlanc — one of three Ottawa police officers in Haiti at the time of the quake — recounted the tragedy at a news conference yesterday.

At 4:53 p.m. on the day of the quake, LeBlanc and his colleagues were sitting in a UN vehicle when the vehicle “started to move in a very unusual way, by shaking left and right.

“It was difficult to analyze everything that was going on during the 35 seconds,” said LeBlanc.

When the quake stopped, his first instinct was to go back to the headquarters when he found a man who was trapped in a house that hadn’t collapsed yet.

“The man had a broken leg, so I just grabbed him and took him out of the house as fast as I could.”

On his way back to the UN headquarters, he met his best friend and fellow officer, who told him it was no longer standing.

For the next six days, LeBlanc assisted in looking through the rubble and “doing everything we could to help the Haitian community,” he said. “I’m discovering the strength I have in me to keep helping. I know I have done my part, but my heart is still there.”