FIU researchers reported missing in Everglades found safe

2 PhD candidates, 1 international researcher had been collecting water samples

MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – Three Florida International University researchers who were reported missing in Everglades National Park have been found safe, the U.S. Coast Guard said Thursday.

The Coast Guard began searching for the college students after an associate professor notified them about 9 p.m. Wednesday that the group hadn't returned from a research trip.

They were collecting water samples on board a 21-foot boat, when it began having engine trouble at about 10 a.m.

"We just had engine trouble (that) we couldn't repair in the field," FIU graduate student Peter Rieger said.

Michael Heithaus, dean of FIU's College of Arts, Sciences and Educations, said in a statement Thursday that two of the researchers are Ph.D. candidates. He said the third researcher was visiting from China.

"They are conducting research on water chemistry in specific areas near the estuary, as part of a long-term Everglades research project," Heithaus said. "This group is highly trained and has experience working in this area."

The Coast Guard said they were found Thursday morning by the National Park Service.

"We had all the emergency equipment. We had food and water," Rieger said. "We were prepared for that. It's really unfortunate that it happened, but it was out of our control and we took care of it as best we could."

FIU spokeswoman Dianne Fernandez said the students are in good condition. Park ranger Tony Terry said the researchers were just a little dehydrated. 

"We thank the National Park Service and the U.S. Coast Guard for working diligently to help find the FIU team," Fernandez said.

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