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RTP scientist home safe from Cairo violence

Posted January 31, 2011

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— The world is watching as violent demonstrations continue in Egypt and calls for the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak grow louder.

For a research scientist from Raleigh, the crisis in Cairo was unfolding right below his hotel room window.

Hank Healey returned to Raleigh-Durham International Airport Monday afternoon after a week of looting, rioting and violence. He was in Cairo on a business trip for RTI International, a research and technology company in Research Triangle Park.

Healey said he had been waiting to find the safest way out of the capital city of 18 million.

"My preference was to be taken in a secure manner to the airport," he said. "RTI was arranging that."

But violence escalated over the weekend, and the U.S. Embassy intervened – forcing thousands of Americans from the country.

"Mandatory evacuation. (They said) 'We want you out of here in 24 hours,'" Healey recalled.

The U.S. State Department has received requests from more than 2,000 Americans for a seat on board a chartered evacuation flight.

Healey survived the chaos and made it home to Raleigh, just as organizers of the uprising are trying to mobilize one million Egyptians to take to the streets Tuesday.

Hank Healey Triangle man makes it out of Cairo chaos

Healey was in Egypt consulting with government leaders about the country's educational system. He said Egyptian unrest is a setback to his work, but he's eager to return once things stabilize.

"The work is great, and the people I work with are wonderful," Healey said. "(We're) decentralizing the education system so that schools and lower levels of government have more say."

His family is glad to have him home, but they said that as much as Healey travels the globe, they thought his assignment in Egypt was supposed to be one of the safest.

"He used to go to a lot worse places where he would have to have body guards and stuff," said his daughter, Ashlyn Healey. "When he went (to Cairo), he kept telling me that it was much safer than the other places."

If the aging president refuses to resign, Healey said there's no telling when peace will return to Egypt.

"As long as Mubarak is in power, it's like a big question mark," he said. "He's 82 years old. Why is he hanging on?"

A graduate of University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill was also on her way home Monday night. Jessica Leonard, 24, has been teaching preschool in Egypt. She got trapped with just her passport and the clothes on her back when the riots started last week.

Leonard was able to board a flight out of Cairo Monday. She will eventually make it to Charlotte and then home to her family in Ohio.


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  • cubed32696 Feb 1, 2011


    You obviously do not know what we do. Try visiting our webpage before you spout off about something you know nothing about. If you can do better -- go for it.

    Also, it is ALWAYS the Repubs that cut funding for research.

  • rebekah1979 Feb 1, 2011

    I for one think we should fix OUR education system before we go meddling in those of other countries. Perhaps RTI would care to invest in OUR education system.

  • cubed32696 Feb 1, 2011

    My apologies ginaosbo. I clearly misread your post.
    Thank you imsirius for setting me straight.

  • imsirius Feb 1, 2011


    I think the point of ginasobo's comment was that more people should be concerned for what goes on around the world. We are a global society now and what happens in Egypt will surely have an effect on us here in the US. There should be more concern about the uprising.

    It is great news that your friend made it home safely!

  • cubed32696 Feb 1, 2011


    You're right -- it is good (really great) news! I know that my prayers were answered for Hank's safe return.


    How about because this is LOCAL. This is a friend/co-worker of mine and I'm very happy to see that Hank is home safe.

    You would complain if there wasn't a story about this. There is no pleasing some people.

  • ginaosbo Feb 1, 2011

    Hmmmm, so far, this story has been up on Front longer, with way fewer comments than the NATIONAL story of Obamacare being deemed unconstitutional! Wonder why?

  • Grasshopper007 Feb 1, 2011

    Good news!!