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Three San Francisco Justice System Consultants Survived Haiti Quake

Posted Jan 28, 2010 9:39 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Three San Francisco consultants advising Haiti on how to strengthen its justice system are lucky they were not in their hotel when the earthquake hit.

The Hotel Montana was left a pile of rubble, but the building where the three advisers were meeting did not fall, the Recorder reports. The trio was in Haiti for DPK Consulting, which helps build judicial systems in developing countries.

The three DPK consultants who told the Recorder about their harrowing experience are former court administrator Bob Page; Grace Brown, page’s wife and a DPK executive; and lawyer Jessica Vapnek.

The story describes the minutes after the quake: “In their business attire—Brown wearing a pair of dark heels—the group hiked up the road toward the Hotel Montana, where they'd checked in the day before. Half-finished homes built one on top of another had slid down the hill. Trucks that serve as buses in Haiti, filled with people, were crushed by the falling debris.”

The group used their annual plan for Haiti as a bed to sleep on outside the destroyed hotel. The next day, Page helped clear the area for evacuation and helped carry the injured on makeshift stretchers made out of hotel doors. That afternoon, the group decided to leave. They drove all afternoon and gunned it over the border to the Dominican Republic because Vapnek had left her passport in the hotel, the story says.

"You read in the paper about loss of life, and I think it's really incomprehensible until you witness it," Brown told the Recorder.

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