BOCA RATON—At least eight students from Lynn University are scheduled to return to South Florida on Friday, after surviving the earthquake in Haiti.
The students stayed overnight in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic, and the university hopes to bring them back Friday on a private jet, Lynn spokesman Jason Hughes said. Three Lynn staff members traveled to the Dominican Republic to help tend to their needs, he said.
Rescue workers were still looking Thursday for four students and two professors who were on a class mission trip to Port-au-Prince. The missing students are Christine Gianacaci, of Hopewell, N.J.; Stephanie Crispinelli, of Katonah, N.Y.; Courtney Hayes, of Boca Raton; and Britney Gengel, of Rutland, Mass, Ross said.
The two missing professors are Patrick Hartwick, dean of the Ross College of Education; and Richard Bruno, assistant professor in the College of Liberal Education.
One of the students returning to Florida is Paul Tyska, of Wilmette, Ill. He was the first to make contact with Lynn officials. Using a satellite phone, he spoke briefly Thursday afternoon to Matthew Chaloux, director of auxiliary services at Lynn, Hughes said.
"He indicated that he and seven classmates were in the care of the U.S. Department of State, and they were boarding a flight in the near term for Santo Domingo," Hughes said.
In addition to Tyska, the other students in the Dominican Republic are Thomas Schloemer, of Fox Point, Wis.; Nikki Fantauzzi, of Simsbury, Conn.; Daniela Montealegre, of Managua, Nicaragua; Julie Prudhomme, of East Greenwich, R.I.; Michael DeMatteo, of Southlake, Texas; Melissa Elliott, of Hartland, Wis.; and Lindsay Doran, Clearwater.
At least nine students from the University of Miami were also in Haiti at the time of the quake and all are safe, spokeswoman Margot Winick said, Three UM nursing students returned to South Florida on Wednesday night on a UM School of Medicine flight, which took physicians to Haiti to help in the relief effort and returned with patients and evacuees.
The Lynn students contacted family members through the consulate section of the U.S. Embassy in Haiti, Hughes said.
Many of their families are traveling to South Florida to see them.
DeMatteo's parents, Diane and Dan DeMatteo, were flying from Texas on Thursday evening.
They received a confirmation note from the U.S. Embassy on Wednesday night saying their son was OK.
"I have the utmost empathy for all the people who have missing relatives," Diane DeMatteo said. "It's unbelievably difficult."
The university is using a private contractor through its travel insurance policy to locate members of the group.
The students were assisting the Coconut Creek charity Food for the Poor as part of a special course called "Journey of Hope."
They had been staying in the Hotel Montana, which collapsed.
Two Lynn staff members are also in the country on vacation visiting family. Lynn officials have not been in contact with them and have not released their names.
Staff Researcher Barbara Hijek contributed to this report.
Scott Travis can be reached at stravis@SunSentinel.com, 561-243-6637 or 954-425-1421.