Students return, USF grad still missing in Costa Rica

Search efforts continue for USF graduate Aly Lakdawala, who was reported missing on Saturday afternoon when he failed to return from a swim in the Pacific Ocean near the town of Matapalo, Costa Rica.
The Costa Rican Coast Guard, American Embassy, American Red Cross, local police and lifeguards have been searching for the student since Saturday.
Lakdawala and three others went swimming while on an alternative summer break trip on which a total of fourteen students were doing volunteer work.
“The problem is it’s an area where riptides are common cause of death in Costa Rica,” said University Spokesman Michael Hoad.
Maria Crummett, dean of international studies, arrived in Costa Rica on Sunday to assist Lakdawala’s father, who also went to Costa Rica, said Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Tracy Tyree.
Tyree said Rene Sanchez, a coordinator in International Affairs and Education Abroad, went to Costa Rica along with Crummett.
“They’re trying to provide any assistance they’re able to,” Tyree said. “They will do anything they can.”
Tyree said 11 other students ended their trip and returned to the United States on Monday night. She said the remaining two students are flying back Tuesday. Director of the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement Jennifer Espinola was supervising the students but stayed in Costa Rica to assist in the search process.
“(Espinola) is there to be helpful,” Tyree said. “She is the one person that knows what they were doing.”
Espinola’s husband, Wayne, attended the trip as well and escorted the students back to the U.S.
The trip was part of the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement. The group left May 8 for the capital, San Jose, to work with the International Volunteer HQ.
The students volunteered at an orphanage for three days then went to assist a Costa Rican biologist on a turtle conservation project in Matapalo.
Lakdawala, 21, graduated earlier this month with a double major in international studies and philosophy.