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Beneath the rubble, a human bond

At a hotel, rescue workers pull out a bellhop and a U.S. charity worker from elevator shafts after nearly 65 hours. They had talked constantly, encouraging each other while entombed in the dark.

January 16, 2010|By Joe Mozingo
  • Daniel Woolley, of Compassion International, is rescued from the Montana Hotel, where he spent 65 hours pinned under rubble. Touching his face is Mondesir Luckson, a bellboy who was also trapped in the ruins and with whom he was able to communicate.
Daniel Woolley, of Compassion International, is rescued from the Montana… (Rick Loomis / Los Angeles…)

Reporting from Port-Au-Prince, Haiti — About 9 a.m. Friday, Virginia Task Force One, out of Fairfax County, pulled Haitian bellhop Mondesir Luckson from a crumbled elevator shaft in the upscale Montana Hotel in Port-au-Prince.

Luckson drank some water, ate some food and talked about how he could hear other people trapped in the rubble. At first there were eight voices, he said, then there were only six.

An hour later, the search team hauled out American Daniel Woolley, an Internet program manager with the Christian charity group Compassion International, from another elevator shaft.

Luckson ran to Woolley as he was being carried out on a stretcher, placed his hand on his cheek and introduced himself.

"Hey Luckson!" Woolley said in a raspy voice. "Good to meet you, man! Let me get your address."

Woolley, who was in Haiti to help shoot sponsorship videos of children for his Colorado-based organization, was transported to a hospital at the U.S. Embassy and then evacuated to Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami.

Luckson said the two of them talked constantly while entombed in the dark and the dust for nearly 65 hours, praying and urging each other not to get discouraged.

"He is married and had two boys," Luckson said. "He kept saying, 'I just want to see my family and wife' " in Colorado.

Luckson said he didn't know yet what had happened to his own family.

Mark Stone, with the Virginia team, said that even though his team and a French crew had cut holes in the mass of concrete using jackhammers, concrete saws, metal saws and picks, much of the devastated six-story hotel could not be searched.

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