False alarm on three Lynn students in Haiti

Posted by Rachel Leigh - email

BOCA RATON, FL (WFLX) - Eight Lynn University students were returned to South Florida and campus around midnight last [Thursday] night. The group was welcomed back by their parents and families, as well as the university cabinet and members of the Crisis Management Team.

Update: FRI 9:30 AM: This, in addition to the news reported by President Kevin M. Ross in a press conference on Thursday evening, is the latest information available at this time. When new information emerges regarding the four (4) students and (2) faculty unaccounted for, those details will be communicated via this site. This morning efforts continue in earnest to locate those missing staff and students.

Perviously: At an 11 p.m. news conference, Lynn University officials said that three of the students thought to be found Thursday morning, are really still missing.

University President Kevin Roth says they got "bad intelligence" from a rescue group they were corresponding with.

Here is the complete transcription of President Kevin Roth's 11 p.m. Briefing:

Good evening. Thank you for your time this [Thursday] evening. I apologize for the late hour, but we have new news to share with our campus community, and with those whose prayers and thoughts have been with our students and faculty in Haiti since Tuesday evening. And it is news we feel cannot wait.

This [Thursday] morning, just after 9 a.m., we received word that our rescue team in Haiti had secured four of our students at the Hotel Montana, flew them to the Port-au-Prince Airport and had deposited them "at a fixed wing aircraft" for transport to safety. More than 12 hours later, we have been informed by that contractor that they had "bad" intelligence.

At approximately 9:40 p.m. this [Thursday] evening, after a full day spent pressing this group for more details, we were told that Stephanie Crispinelli, Courtney Hayes, and Britney Gengel were not, in fact, ever located. They remain lost. And that is not news, however unpleasant, we intend to let rest another minute.

At this hour, six members of our campus community remain unaccounted for in Haiti. In addition to the three above, we are still desperate for information regarding Christine Gianacaci, as well as our faculty members and friends, Patrick Hartwick and Richard Bruno.

Our search for those missing in Haiti has never ended. And tonight [Thursday], it continues. The private contractor working on our behalf in Haiti continues its search for our missing loved ones. And this evening, and in the early morning hours ahead, reinforcements are being marshaled to grow their ranks and capabilities. And tomorrow, a separate group fixed on finding and evacuating our community members, will join that effort as well.

This is hard news to deliver. But it is more difficult to hear for those family and friends with whom, only hours earlier, such good news had been shared. I am deeply sorry for that.  

But for me, and for many others, hope is not lost. We will – and must – continue our work to track down these individuals and return them to their families.

Even as I speak tonight, eight other students from the "Journey for Hope" group are on their way back to their families. Their plane is to land shortly. That good event is dampened by this bad turn of events. But I trust, through our efforts and through the prayers of so many people – many of whom we don't even know – we will have another plane landing very soon. That is my wish, and my own prayer.