Parents Devastated After Daughter Declared Still Missing in Haiti

Len Gengel thought his daughter was safe, then learned she's still missing.

ByABC News
January 15, 2010, 3:12 PM

Jan. 15, 2010 — -- Screaming "she's alive!" at a laptop image he was certain was a photo of his 19-year-old daughter, Britney, who had been in Haiti during the earthquake, Len Gengel was thrilled Thursday morning.

But the father's euphoria turned to heartbreak when just hours later he learned he had been mistaken and that his daughter was actually still missing in the quake-ravaged country.

Britney Gengel remains one of four Lynn University students and four faculty members missing in Port-au-Prince.

Speaking to reporters in Florida today, an emotional Gengel said he appreciated the thoughts and prayers of everyone around the country.

"We are praying that our daughter Britney be one of the rescued today and be brought home safe and sound," he said. "And I'm pleading to President Obama, to please, please send more people to Haiti to rescue our children."

"As a father, President Obama, you must feel our pain in what we're going through," he said. "Father to father, we need you."

"I don't believe that Stephen King could have written a scenario as painful as what they have gone through," said Massachusetts' State Sen. Stephen M. Brewer, who is acting as the family's spokesman.

"They've gone from very, very anxious waiting for Britney to sheer elation when she was reported to be found at 9:30 on Thursday morning to absolute despair at 9:30 on Thursday evening," Brewer told

Britney Gengel 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 Monday night, just a day before a 7.0 earthquake rocked the country and the Hotel Montana, where the group was staying was destroyed.

Lynn contracted a rescue group through the university's insurance provider to enter the country and search for the missing group. On Thursday morning, the university released what it thought was great news: 11 of the 14 group members had been found, including Britney.

Gengel was in tears when he found out and immediately flew from the family's Rutland, Mass., home to Boca Raton, Fla., with his wife, Cherylann, and their two teenage sons, eager to meet Britney as soon as she returned to the United States.

"She's on a helicopter being airlifted to Port-au-Prince," Gengel told reporters before departing. "We are so thrilled. We have been here praying for 48 hours."

Then, becoming even more excited, Gengel asked the throng of cameraman if they wanted to see his daughter.

"I'll show you," he said, pulling up the photo on his laptop. "You guys want to see it? Come here, there she is, she's right there."