A Massachusetts family is still waiting anxiously today for news about their daughter who went missing during the massive earthquake Tuesday afternoon in Haiti.
Len and Cherylann Gengel flew to Miami Thursday night, hoping to reunite with their daughter, Britney, 19, but their hopes were dashed when they learned that a report that she had been found was false.
State Senator Stephen M. Brewer, who has been serving as a family spokesman, said this morning that the mistake "was like something out of a Stephen King novel."
Brewer said rescuers are attempting to glean information about Britney's whereabouts when the earthquake struck from several of her classmates from Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., who were staying at the same hotel as Britney. The group was in Haiti for a semester program working with the poor.
"They are going to be returning to the university in the coming hours, and after suitable time for hugs and tears with their families, the hope is to have a conversation with them, to learn where Britney may have been," Brewer said.
The mistake occurred when a rescue group in Haiti told the university that Gengel and three other students had been found. Later, however, the group told the school that it had been mistaken and that the students were still unaccounted for. The school also said two faculty members were missing.
According to the university, the group was to have been registered and staying at the Hotel Montana on Tuesday evening. The school had been trying to contact the group since the quake and sent a rescue team. Photos of the hotel transmitted by the Reuters news service showed a devastated structure.
Britney Gengel is studying social work, relatives said. The group flew into Haiti this week to work with Food for the Poor, a faith-based nonprofit.
Cherylann Gengel said Thursday that her daughter, a sophomore whose birthday is next week, had seemed to have found her calling in Haiti.
“From the first day she loved it,’’ Gengel said. “She called and said, ‘Mom, I know what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.’ ’’
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