Douglas County

7 metro Atlanta family members, including 6 kids, lost at sea after storm hits their boat in Haiti

DOUGLAS COUNTY, Ga. — A Douglas County family was celebrating the holidays in Haiti when tragedy struck.

The family was on a boat excursion while visiting Haiti on Dec. 30 when a storm overpowered their ship. Seven of them, six of whom are children, were thrown out of the boat and lost at sea.

“The last time everyone saw anyone was Saturday,” said Olna Dupre.

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Olna Dupre told Channel 2′s Larry Spruill that the Christmas holiday was the last time her family was all together. They’re from Haiti and wanted to bring in the new year on their family’s island.

“So December 30th, this was Saturday, right before New Year’s Eve. The family wanted to see everyone come back to our island. When it’s times like this, like New Years or Thanksgiving, everybody goes back home to our little island. That’s was one of those times and to get there, it’s by ship,” Dupre said.

Dupre said her family members all got on a local boat. That’s when things took a turn.

“Right about 11 o’clock at night, about 45 minutes to an hour from our island, the weather hits and it wasn’t on their side,” she recalled.

Dupre said large ocean waves swallowed the boat and everyone fell in the water, including some of her youngest cousins.

“They are all kids except for their uncles. We’re talking about kids. Five, six, nine, 10, 13 years old,” she said.


The family says they took canoes out into the ocean in a desperate attempt to rescue their loved ones.

“My cousin took a canoe along with some of his brothers to go and save some of the people on the boat,” said Dupre.

Some were rescued including two of the kids but many of her family members are still missing.

“We don’t know where the rest of our family is,” said Dupre.

Dupre said the search and rescue is difficult because of the lack of resources.

“When you’re dealing with minimal resources. We have canoes for God’s sake,” she said.

Spruill asked Dupre if she’s hopeful search crews will find her loved ones.

“To answer your question, Larry, No, I’m [shakes head.]”

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Larry Spruill

Larry Spruill, WSB-TV

Larry Spruill Jr. has been part of the WSB-TV family since March 2022. He is an Emmy Nominated Journalist with over 12 years of news and storytelling experience.