Jan. 21, 2010 — -- Lynn University President Kevin Ross made an emotional plea today to the U.S. officials to ensure that all Americans still missing after last week's earthquake in Haiti be returned home.
"We have hope that whatever the days ahead might bring that we have the U.S. government's assurance that everyone lost in this tragedy is returned to their families," said Ross.
"This tragedy is not a Lynn University tragedy alone, it doesn't just affect us, it affects us all," said Ross.
Four Lynn students and two faculty members are still unaccounted for in Haiti, and are believed to have been at the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince when the earthquake hit. Eight other students have been rescued and returned home safely.
The group of students traveled to Haiti on an aid mission with Food for the Poor shortly before last week's earthquake.
"We still have hope at Lynn University, hope that a miracle is in the making and that our six will be found safe and sound," said Ross. "This remains our most ardent wish at Lynn."
Ross said that a petition signed by Sen. George LeMieux, R-Fla., and Rep. Ron Klein, D-Fla., is being presented to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton asking her to make sure search and rescue efforts continue until the "possibility of survival no longer exists."
Earlier this week, parents of the four missing Lynn students missing in the tons of Haiti rubble made their own pleas to the U.S. government, saying that it needs to "step up and get in there."
"We are up against a time clock," said Lin Crispinelli whose daughter Stephanie is among the missing. "There are not enough hands in there."
"We need to get these people out who deserve the life out in front of them," she said. "It seems inconceivable to me that we can't get the manpower there to make this happen."
"With the right help, we could get them," said Crispinelli.
"We're hoping today for a miracle, and that they'll come out today," said Jean Gianacaci, whose daughter Christine is still missing, on Monday.
"Today's our day, we need a day," said Gianacaci, saying that reports of people being rescued alive from the collapsed buildings over the weekend has given her hope, and that it is time for her and the other parents to receive some good news.
The total U.S. confirmed fatalities in Haiti is 33, but that number is expected to rise as the rescue effort and the search for bodies continues. So far 6,174 Americans have been evacuated from the country.
Survivors of Haiti's Quake Feeling Guilty
Eight students have returned safely to the U.S., but the search is still on for Britney Gengel and classmates Stephanie Crispinelli, Christine Gianacaci and Courtney Hayes. Two faculty members who were acting as advisors to the group, Patrick Hartwick and Richard Bruno are also missing.
Students on campus began a candlelight vigil Saturday night, lighting luminaries outside the student center for those students and faculty still missing in Haiti. The university plans to continue this tradition every night "going forward."
Some of the students from Lynn who were rescued told the media Saturday that they wish they could go back to find their peers.
"After we hugged our parents and loved ones and felt safe, we were all like ready to go back," said Paul Tyska, one of the rescued students. "This isn't any kind of success story because you know we're missing two professors and four other students."
Another student, Tom Schloemer, said he felt guilty that he was rescued and others are still missing.
"We still feel a little bad about leaving but we had to get off that mountain," said Schloemer. "We all said that if we had the same Coast Guard and Marine that were with us and we had the proper precautions and it was safer, we would all pack up and go back and find them, go help, we'd all do it. We'd all go back immediately."