Fourteen members of the Lynn community were in Haiti on a "Journey of Hope" service trip when a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck the island on Jan. 12. The remains of all six (6) members of the group missing in Haiti have now been recovered. Eight (8) members of that group were evacuated from the country and returned to campus on Jan. 14.
No additional information is available at this hour. University officials will not offer additional comment. Any breaking news will be shared exclusively on this site.
President Kevin M. Ross offers reaction
Lynn University President Kevin M. Ross has issued the following statement (below) in reaction to today's news. This will be the only public statement offered at this time.
"While at Lynn, Britney triumphed academically and socially and was a true inspiration to the Lynn community and the community at large. She was a beautiful young woman who gave her life serving others. We will miss her terribly. Our thoughts and prayers are with Cherylann, Len, Bernie, Richie and the rest of the Gengel family, as well as Britney's friends and loved ones during this difficult time."
Message from Len, Cherylann Gengel and their son Richie
Our Valentine, Britney Gengel was recovered by Col. Norberto Cintron and identified by the State Department today. Even though our hearts our breaking, we are so grateful to the men and women who have worked at the Hotel Montana for the past 33 days. Their efforts continue for the remaining two Americans still missing in the rubble at the Hotel Montana. We are praying for the families that their loved ones are brought home.
A heartfelt thank you to Bill Hawkins, chief of the Army Corps of Engineers, Bob Zoldos, chief of Fairfax S&R Team, Michelle Bernier-Toth of the State Department and Col. Norberto Cintron of the U.S. Army who kept their promises to bring our baby home. God bless them and their families.
The success of the recovery effort at the Hotel Montana would not have been possible without the help of Sen. John Kerry and his aide Drew O'Brien. Kerry was the first U.S. government official to contact us in Florida during this catastrophe. We also want to thank U.S. Congressman Jim McGovern and his aide Chris Phillbin. McGovern had the courage to accompany the Lynn University families to Haiti and witness firsthand the sight and smell of Hell on earth. Additionally, Sen. Scott Brown and his aide Steven Schrage were not afraid to get involved with this tragedy and to help us with the State Department issues. Special thanks to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her Chief of Staff, Cheryl Mills, who coordinated the Lynn University family trip to the Hotel Montana in Haiti.
Because of her efforts, the families were able to see firsthand the compassion, conviction and commitment of all the workers at the Hotel Montana site. This gave all the Lynn families peace of mind and comfort, seeing with their own eyes all the efforts that our government was making in the search and rescue mission. To Sen. Steve Brewer who came in our door the first night of the earthquake and has been a constant support through this horrific ordeal. Then Lew Evangelidis stepped up and got the new Sen. Scott Brown involved with our recovery efforts.
Our daughter Britney signed up for a 3-week course at Lynn University called Journey of Hope. We sat with her before she left and talked about this trip being a life-changing event. We never knew that this trip would change our lives and hers forever. We want to thank Lynn University for all their efforts during such an incredibly difficult time. A special thanks to Dr. Phil Riordan who never once forgot to hug us when we saw him each day and Dr. Cynthia Patterson who always watched over Brit while she was attending Lynn University. Lastly, we appreciate Dr. Kevin Ross for not caving in under the pressure of this catastrophe and leading the efforts of his team on the ground in Haiti and at Lynn University. We are grateful to everyone at Lynn University who went out of their way to make us feel loved.
Finally we would like to thank our family for their constant love and support, while never leaving our side for one minute during this tragedy. We are blessed with true friends who have felt our pain and suffering and have supported us through this most difficult time in our lives. We are thankful to our community who have shown their support with kind words, prayers and yellow ribbons for our Britney's return home. Lastly, we are grateful to all the other wonderful, compassionate people in this great land of ours called the United States of America who have sent their thoughts, prayers and love to us on a daily basis, we say God bless.
We have our faith, hope and love. Faith in God, hope that someday we will be with Britney for an eternity in heaven and love of family, friends, community and country. We will now wait for our Britney to come home to us so that we can celebrate her life and we can continue her Journey of Hope for the poorest of the poor in Haiti.
God bless all of you and God bless Britney!
Len and Cherylann Gengel and their son Richie
Campus memorial to be held at Lynn in the future
An on-campus ceremony celebrating the lives and accomplishments of all of the Journey of Hope participants will be held in the future. However, no such ceremony has been scheduled at this time.
Lynn University's alert site updates from Jan. 12-Jan. 27 have been archived on the Lynn.edu news page as a service to the news media.