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Bradenton youth group stuck in Haiti amid violent protests over gas prices

A major conflict in the Carribbean has become a cause of worry for parents in the Tampa Bay area.

Violent protests over fuel prices have forced flight cancellations, leaving a church youth group from Bradenton stranded in Haiti.

On Saturday, Haiti's government announced a sharp rise in fuel prices, sending the country into turmoil. There are people protesting in the streets, smashing buildings and setting fires.

News Channel 8 spoke to parents who have children on the trip. They tell us they feel helpless and they will not be sleeping until their children are home.

Mike Wilson, the founder of My Life Speaks, the nonprofit organization hosting the group tells us they tried to get to the airport around 4 a.m. Saturday in hopes the early time would help them avoid protesters and problems on the road. But unfortunately, the group hit multiple roadblocks and decided returning to their compound would be the safest option.

“When they got to the main road, that is when they encountered all of the riots,” said Jill Kramer, whose 15-year-old daughter is on the trip. “They were on a bus with the owners of the mission, the leaders, other adults, three armed guards and they just kept getting stopped by road blocks and people asking for money and that is when they decided, at that point, it was not worth it.”

Heather Terwilliger tells us this was her 15-year-old daughter Abby's first mission trip. 

“She says, ‘Mom, there is something crazy going on. Tires are being lit on fire in the street,’” Terwilliger recalled her daughter saying when they spoke over the phone.

Terwilliger says she is nervous and only wants her daughter and the rest of the group to make it home safely.

We still don't know when they will be able to make it back to Florida.


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