Missing man's mom urges U.S. to find all Americans in Haiti




Posted on January 24, 2010 at 11:01 PM

Updated Sunday, Jan 24 at 11:19 PM

FORT WORTH — Sally Baldwin rarely leaves the spare room in her Fort Worth home, spending hours online and on the phone searching for what happened to her son, Brendan Beck.

"My main wish is I want my son to come home," she said, her voice cradking.

Beck, a 35-year-old civil engineer, is believed lost in the rubble of what had been the posh Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince, one of many Americans still missing in the Haiti earthquake disaster.

As the days turn into weeks, hope of finding Beck alive fades, and concern is growing that his body will never be found. Thirty-five Americans are known dead in Haiti, but the fate of thousands of others remains unclear.

When Baldwin turns to the State Department for for answers, what response does she get?

"'I don't know; I don't know, I don't know.' All my questions were, 'I don't know,'" Baldwin said. "And these are the people supposed to be handling the situation."

Her grief is now turning to action. The software engineer is spearheading a campaign of sorts to keep attention focused on haiti. Her goal is to convince U.S. leaders to bring home the remains of Americans who perished in the earthquake.

"That's not a guarantee at this point, and that's what we're fighting for, is a guarantee that we will bring everybody home — one way or another," Baldwin said.

She's getting aggressive, hounding members of Congress — first by phone, and soon in person. Baldin is planning a trip to Washington. "I want them to know how concerned I am," she said.

And her message is getting through, scoring meetings with top lawmakers and getting letters of support from members of Congress.

Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia urged the president to make sure "the remains of Americans are properly identified and returned to loved ones."

Until now, he focus has been on survivors. But officials concede that with so much damage and confusion, it may be impossible to identify and return the bodies of all victims, a reality Baldwin may have to face.

But not, she says, until all hope has faded.

"That's my son, and I will do anything I have to for my son."

E-mail jbetz@wfaa.com