A Father's Plea to Obama in Wake of Quake

A Massachusetts couple thought their daughter had been pulled safely from the ruins of a hotel flattened by the earthquake in Haiti, only to get the heartbreaking news she was actually still missing.

Britney Gengel, a 19-year old sophomore at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla., was part of a group of a dozen students and two faculty members form the school who arrived in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince Monday on a humanitarian mission, a day before the temblor.

When he thought his daughter was safe, an emotional Leonard Gengel, of Rutland, Mass., cried out that he couldn't wait to wrap his arms around his daughter.

Then, the ultimate cruel twist of fate hit home: While eight of the students were indeed safe, Britney wasn't among them. Her whereabouts, and those of the three other students and the faculty members, are still unknown.

Rescue teams pulled more people alive from the rubble of the Hotel Montana, but their identities aren't known.

The Gengels, like so many others with loved ones in Haiti, remain in a torturous limbo, observed CBS News Correspondent Jim Axelrod.

On "The Early Show Saturday Edition," her parents described their pain, their anguish.

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Leonard, his voice cracking, told co-anchor Erica Hill he's "asking, I'm begging President Obama. please, you inspired a nation, you inspired these young college students to volunteer and help the poor, and there's nothing more dignified than helping the poor. And these young girls that are trapped in that hotel and those two professors need to be found, and we need Americans, we need the paratroopers, we need people there.

"If we could do it, we'd go, but we can't go. So we need you, President Obama, to get people to the Hotel Montana and get our daughter home, all of our daughters home, please.

"We just really, really are in so much pain, because we're helpless, we can't do anything. If we could do something, if we could fly down there -- I own a construction company, I'd bring my equipment. Whatever I had to do. We want our daughter."

Britney's mother, Cherylann Gengel, remarked that, "We're very fortunate. We have a strong faith. We have each other. We have extended family. We have incredible friends. Our little town of Rutland, Mass. last night held a vigil for our Brit. And from what I heard, about 1,100 people showed up.

"We're not giving up. We're from New England. We're strong. We believed in the Boston Red Sox! No one thought they could win. We believe that Brittany will be coming home. So we're strong people and we just -- we're going and we're just gonna keep going. And we'd like to thank everybody for all their prayers, for all their support. They have been wonderful. And that's really our strength.

"People that we met somewhere along the lines in our lives are just sending us notes and e-mails, and we can't thank them enough, because we are reading every single one of them and putting them in our pocket carrying it with us. And so. thank you. And they'll all be invited to the celebratory party that we have a when Brit comes home."

Cherylann said anyone who knows Britney "knows she's fabulous. And that kind of sums it up. She's just an amazing girl. She touches you when you meet her. You're in the circle. She's grabs you. She's honest, she's smart, she's nice, she's kind, she's everything a parent wants their child to be. And there aren't enough words to describe her."

"She's a bright light," Leonard said. ... She lights up a room."