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Davis, California

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

UC Davis students and scholars safe in Haiti

Two UC Davis students and a visiting scholar are safe in Haiti after last week’s devastating earthquake.

The two graduate students, Starry Sprenkle and Tony Bernardin, were in Haiti when the earthquake hit but were not injured. Sprenkle is conducting field research in ecology in pursuit of a Ph.D. Bernardin is working toward a computer science Ph.D.

The scholar, Jean-Marc Francois-Pierre, traveled to Haiti from Davis after the earthquake to find his wife, whom he recently married there. Francois-Pierre studies development agriculture with the Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship Program on campus. Francois-Pierre’s wife, Maccia, was not injured.

Sprenkle was traveling to the capital city of Port-au-Prince with her 20-month-old daughter, Jasmine, when the magnitude 7.0 earthquake hit. She sent a text message to her father stating that she was going to find her husband, Erlantz Hyppolite. Sprenkle, Hyppolite and their daughter are safe.

“We are incredibly relieved and hopeful,” said Sprenkle’s father, Stephen, in a statement to the UC Davis News Service. “They survived the earthquake and now, if they can survive the aftermath, then we’re all good. What’s going on in Port-au-Prince is unimaginable.”

Sprenkle has lived in Haiti for six years and has been a UC Davis student for two. She is currently working on a project to plant trees and orchards in the country, which has suffered from soil erosion, said Professor Kevin Rice, Sprenkle’s faculty mentor.

Tony Bernardin was in Haiti on personal travel. On Thursday he posted a message to Facebook that said, “I’m still alive. I’m going to see if I can catch a flight today if the airport is still alive. This is massive destruction here. My family is all okay.”

In a later message, Bernardin wrote, “I was told the airport is closed to commercial flights and so is the border to the Dominican Republic, so I’ll be stuck here for a bit longer. But we have a place to stay and are able to get some goods, so all is still looking okay.”

JEREMY OGUL can be reached at newmedia@theaggie.org.


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