March 13, 2005 in Nation/World

Research students rescue Haitians

Associated Press
 

BOSTON – College students aboard a research vessel in the Caribbean rescued 49 Haitians from a disabled sailboat and brought them to a Jamaican port Thursday.

Students enrolled in the program run by the Falmouth-based Sea Education Association say the Haitians were packed on a tiny sailboat and had run out of food and water.

“They were really frantic and they were afraid we were going to abandon them,” said University of Denver senior Anita Kasch, 22, who spoke to them in French. “I reassured them several times we weren’t going to leave them.”

Twenty-two students and a crew of 11 were anchored aboard the Corwith Cramer about 45 miles north of Jamaica on Wednesday to conduct research. That’s when the 25-foot sailboat came into view, and one man waved a red flag.

The disabled vessel carrying 35 adults and 14 children had lost its mast. It had been at sea for five days.

“They reported to us that they wanted to get to Jamaica to work, to earn some money,” said Corwith Cramer Capt. Steve Tarrant.

The U.S. Coast Guard and Jamaican authorities were notified, but with any help hours away, the students and Corwith Cramer crew decided to take the Haitians aboard. Among the children were seven toddlers and one infant.

“We studied the Caribbean and the politics but we had not seen it, really. We all learned a lot,” said University of Michigan junior Sarah Herard, 21.

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