Parents of Students Missing in Haiti Quake Tell U.S. to 'Get in There'

Four students, four professors still unaccounted fo after Haiti earthquake.

January 15, 2010, 12:45 PM

Jan. 18, 2010 — -- Parents of four university students missing in the tons of Haiti rubble admitted today they need a miracle and told the U.S. government 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.

Stephanie Crispinelli was one of 14 students and faculty members traveling from Florida's Lynn University on a relief mission with Food for the Poor. The group arrived last Monday night, just a day before a 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked the country. The Hotel Montana, where the group was staying, was destroyed.

"We're hoping today for a miracle, and that they'll come out today," said Jean Gianacaci, whose daughter Christine is still missing.

"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.

A Facebook group called "Haiti Earthquake Hotel Montana" has nearly 10,000 photos of people believed to be missing in or around the site of the Hotel Montana. The message board is filled with pleas from family members asking for prayers and any news about their loved ones.

The total U.S. confirmed fatalities in Haiti is 18, but that number is expected to rise as the rescue effort and the search for bodies continues. So far more than 2,000 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 as well as two other professors from the university who happened to be vacationing in Haiti at the time of the earthquake.

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." Classes have also been canceled for a portion of the day Tuesday to allow for an all-campus meeting regarding the missing students.

Some of the students from Lynn who were rescued told the media Saturday night 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."

While Lynn University parents continue to pray for their daughters, other parents across the U.S. have already heard the devastating news that their kids did not make it out alive.

The parents of Molly Hightower, 22, learned early late last week that their daughter had been found dead in the wreckage of an orphanage where she had been volunteering.

"Molly was a beautiful young lady," her uncle Craig Hightower told ABC News' Seattle affiliate "She had a great smile and clearly had a massive capacity for love and a big heart."

Twenty-four-year-old Ryan Kloos, who was visiting his sister Erin at the same orphanage where Hightower was working, also perished in the earthquake. Erin survived the earthquake.

"He was just the funniest smartest kid," his aunt Karie Dozer told ABC News' Pheonix affiliate ABC15.

"It is hard to grasp," she said. "We are focusing on Erin and the positive. It is hard to think about Ryan. It is just so sad."

Survivors Stories From Haiti Earthquake

Among stories of loss, there are also Americans who had miraculous recovering. One Colorado Springs man was rescued Friday from a hotel elevator shaft where he had been trapped for four days.

Dan Wooley, who had been traveling with Colorado Springs-based Compassion International, helped rescue workers pull him up with ropes out of the elevator in what had once been the Hotel Montana. Wooley and another man, believed to be Haitian, were both rescued and embraced each other from their adjacent cots.

New Jersey native Sarla Chand was also pulled from the Montana's rubble on Thursday.

Richard Santos and Jim Gulley, also pulled from the Hotel Montana, said they survived on what they had in their pockets -- Orbitz gum and a Tootsie Roll lollipop.

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