Douglas native Courtney Hayes still missing in Haiti -, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Douglas native Courtney Hayes still missing in Haiti

By Christian Jennings - bio | email

DOUGLAS,  GA (WALB) – Devastating news for a Douglas family whose daughter is still missing in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Courtney Hayes had just arrived in Haiti on a college mission trip when the earthquake hit. Thursday morning, the Hayes family got the exciting news that search crews had finally found their daughter.

But Thursday night around 11, their world was turned upside down when they got word that that information was false and Courtney Hayes was still missing.

They were given hope and joy only for it to be taken away in the blink of an eye. Now her parents are headed to the Dominican Republic to search hospitals and clinics. And her uncle is about to fly to Haiti with a rescue group to search the hotel they believe she was in when the earthquake hit and the roof above her collapsed.

Just before midnight a plane landed in Ft. Lauderdale carrying eight Lynn University students. Courtney Hayes of Douglas was not among them.

"It was crushing, and now we're back to square one," said her sister Lauren Hayes.

Courtney, 11 other students, and two faculty members were the "Journey of Hope" group that was in Haiti for mission work. They arrived at Hotel Montana only an hour before the earthquake hit Tuesday. Thursday morning the University and families of the victims were informed that 11 of them, including Courtney were found and on their way home. Only that information was false. Six people are still missing.

"My mom called at 10:30 screaming and crying. I was up all night honestly," said her sister.

Natalie Matthews is a long-time family friend who has been constantly on the phone with Courtney's mother.

"They were buying Court flowers and they were getting ready to see her," said Natalie Matthews describing a phone conversation with Angie Hayes.

But that was then. Now Courtney's parents are on their way to the Dominican Republic to look for her themselves.

"They're going to all the hospitals because they've taken a lot of injured people over there," said Lauren Hayes.

University officials believe the eight safe students were outside at the pool when the earthquake caused the Hotel to collapse. Courtney was inside.

"She was in the hotel part that collapsed, her and the other girls. But he said it wasn't all flat just some parts," said Hayes.

Hundreds of people could be trapped inside the hotel. Family and friends have faith Courtney's alive.

"I got hope because this morning I heard they rescued three missionaries from that hotel so I'm like maybe they can find her," said Hayes.

"Please continue praying for Courtney and their family because they really need it right now," said Matthews.

Prayers that will stretch from Douglas to Haiti. As some family members search through the rubble. And others wait on edge at home. Hoping for a call with good news.

Right now people are on the ground at the Hotel Montana and putting together a five-person search and rescue unit to search the specific rooms and locations they think the students and faculty may be trapped.

Lynn University is posting updates on its web site.

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