Efforts continue to locate Rutland student in Haiti
BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Crews on the ground in Haiti searched for six Lynn University students, including Britney Gengel from Rutland, Mass.
Gengel, a 19-year-old sophomore studying social work, was reportedly found safe on Thursday morning. But, by Thursday night, the school determined that information was inaccurate, and Gengel was still unaccounted for.
"At approximately 9:40 p.m. this evening, after a full day spent pressing the group for more details, we were told that Stephanie Crispinelli, Courtney Hayes, and Britney Gengel were not, in fact, ever located," said Lynn University President Dr. Kevin Ross.
Gengel had been staying at the Hotel Montana. The building has been reduced to rubble Tuesday’s 7.0-magnitude earthquake in Haiti.
"Student reports indicate they believe the four missing students and two faculty members were in separate areas of the hotel when the quake hit. These reports have been reinforced and reconfirmed by our own contact with a member of the food for the poor organization who was in the hotel and escorting our team at that time,” said Dr. Ross in a press conference on Tuesday.
Dr. Ross said crews have been focusing their search efforts around the Hotel Montana.
“Rescue teams have been on the ground since Wednesday at 2 p.m. continue their work,” said Dr. Ross.
The Gengel family flew down from Logan Airport to West Palm, Florida, thinking they were on their way to meet their daughter Britney.
"They are devastated. They are hopeful. I will tell you they are incredibly hopeful. These are very strong people who know their daughters, and they are, this is a setback. They recognize that, but they have not given up hope and nor have we," said Dr. Kevin Ross, the President of Lynn University.
"We just want to hug her. We just want to hold her. As a father, I just want to hold my daughter," said Britney's father Len Gengel.
Hours later, the Gengel family's joy turned to despair, when they heard word that their daughter was still missing, along with three other students and two faculty members. Eight others from the group arrived safely in Florida from Haiti late Thursday night.
Officials at Lynn University blamed the mix-up on "bad intelligence" from the rescue team they hired to recover the 14 students and faculty members, who were all on a three-week humanitarian mission.
The group arrived in Haiti on Monday, and the earthquake struck the next day.
A picture taken by a Reuters photographer appeared to show Britney on a make-shift stretcher, but the identity of the girl in the photo has not been confirmed.
Len Gengel described the waiting period now as "hell on earth."
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