ETSU student held captive in Kenya - WFLA News Channel 8

ETSU student held captive in Kenya

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A medical school student studying in the Tri-Cities - trapped against her will inside the gates of an African hotel. The aspiring doctor from East Tennessee State University is back in Tennessee after being held captive in Kenya.

Logan Key, a student at Quillen College of Medicine, went to Kenya to take park in the Medics to Africa program. Once Logan got to Kenya, she found out that the man running the program had some serious problems with the owner of the hotel where the students in the program were staying.

Key says the director didn't pay the hotel owner who held the students captive. Logan eventually escaped and made it home safely.

From the comfort of her Nashville home, the ETSU medical student reflects on the images that replay in her memory, "I'm kind of dealing with the realities," said Key. "It's just kind of all coming together that this was a really scary situation. I'm glad it's over now."

Key and three other American medical students in Kenya became tangled in a web of bad blood, between their program director and the owner of the hotel where the medial students in the Medic program had been staying. "He had approached the entire group and said that there was an outstanding debt to the hotel that was $14,000," recounted Key.

Over the course of the summer, Joshua Omolo, had failed to pay a penny for the students' stay. "…and that if it was not resolved, that 'it was going to be very difficult for us to leave.' Those were the words that he used," said Key. 

Two of students called their university -- who hired a private extraction company to get them out of the country. Key and others had the chance to leave, but it would have to be then and there. Key says against better judgment, "We decided to stay."

It was a decision the three who remained would later look back on -- with their backs against the wall in a foreign country. "I was just trying to stay as calm as I possibly could, but it felt like a very helpless situation."

The situation grew more grave by the hour. Reality sank in, "Now you are physically holding is against our will. You have physically put your hands on an American citizen"

No one was coming. A world away, Logan's family felt hopeless, "Basically when we answered the phone at 2:39 in the morning she was screaming in the background at someone saying, ‘You know, They're holding us hostage!" 

The three Americans created a scene – sitting on suitcases behind armed gates. The scene drew a crowd.

"There was a news crew there and they were kind of pulling me aside and asking me questions - and out of the corner of my eye I saw Brooke, she had two small suitcases, and I just saw her running for the gate. And then I saw the guard running behind her and she barely got out, he tried to pull her back in, but she got out. So, I ran after her and whenever I got to the gate he slammed it and wouldn't let me through. I just had this moment, of ‘I have got to get out of here," recalled Key.

Climbing over a 12 foot wall to safety – in the end, it was the power of proof - a video camera - that became their savior. "

And when she hit the ground on the other side, "I felt better that we were over the gate… I just wanted out of Kenya. That's how I felt. I'm not going to be safe until I get out of this country."

Back in her Tennessee home, Logan's father looks back by looking above.

Dr. Wilsie Bishop, Vice President for Health Affairs at ETSU, released a statement saying they were grateful that Key made it homes safely and no future trips with Medics to Africa will be permitted:

"All of us at ETSU are grateful that Logan has returned safely to the United States. We were shocked to learn about the events that transpired during the past few days. The university will continue to closely monitor all requests for international study. No future trips with Medics to Africa will be permitted."

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