Douglas girl found in Haiti after missing for 40 hours -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Douglas girl found in Haiti after missing for 40 hours

By Christian Jennings - bio | email

DOUGLAS,  GA (WALB) – A 23-year-old Douglas woman who was in Haiti on a college trip when the earthquake hit was found Thursday morning.

Her family and friends got the call around 9AM after 40 hours of uncertainty. A group of 12 students went down to Haiti to do some volunteer work for one week. They had just arrived when the earthquake hit. Finally, Thursday, one of the last missing students was found alive and healthy, Douglas native Courtney Hayes.

"I honestly thought this morning that she was going to be dead," said sister Lauren Hayes.

Courtney Hayes was in Port-au-Prince with other students from Lynn University on a mission trip traveling with aid group Food for the Poor. The group arrived at the Hotel Montana on Tuesday less than an hour before devastation and death plagued the country.

"They were dropped off at 4PM, then the earthquake hit right after that," said her mother, Angie Hayes.

Courtney's mom Angie and father Franklin were in Boca Raton at the University when I talked to them on the phone. Feeling overwhelmed and grateful thier daughter is OK.

"It's been the worst nightmare, it's the most helpless feeling any mother could go through," she said.

A scary 40 hours for family and friends who reached out to Courtney Hayes the only way they could, through facebook. Concerned messages like "It's 4:30 AM...worried still" and " Praying for you, hope you are OK" were replaced with messages of joy like this one "Happy you are safe".

"I know when I see her I'm going to hug her," said family friends Natalie Matthews and Ingrid Jackson.

"I'm going to just hug her and cry and probably never let her out of my sight again," exclaimed her mother.

And although it was difficult, the Hayes family kept their faith.

"All our friends and churches have been praying for her and it worked and we are so thankful for them," said Courtney's grandmother Laura Hinton.

"God really does work miracles. She's found," said her sister Lauren.  Found and on her way home.

We're told Courtney Hayes and the other students are still at the Haiti airport. There's only one runway, the towers are down, and it's just complete chaos. Once they get in the air they will land in the Dominican Republic where a team from the University will meet them there with donated jets. Courtney Hayes mother says her daughter could be back in south Florida late Thursday night.

Eleven students from Lynn University are safe but two faculty members and one student are still missing. The University is continuing to post updates on the group on their website.

Click here for updates on the students:

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