Olympia couple escape turmoil of fight for control of Libya

An Olympia couple who had been stuck in Libya made it out of the country safely on a ferry chartered by the U.S. government, their son says.

Peter Servine’s parents, Ron and Rhonda, called him Friday afternoon to say they were on a dock in Malta waiting to go through customs.

“They’re just really glad that everybody got there safe,” said Servine, of Olympia. “We’re all just thanking God that our prayers are answered.”

Ron and Rhonda Servine moved to Tripoli, Libya, in July to work for AECOM, an international company that helps build countries’ infrastructure.

The ferry was supposed to leave Libya on Wednesday but was delayed because of high seas, according to State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. He sent an electronic notification Wednesday that citizens were “safe on board.”

Peter Servine did not hear that his parents were onboard the ferry until about 4 a.m. Friday, when his parents called to say the boat was leaving the port in Tripoli.

Crowley said Friday that more than 300 passengers were on the ferry. The U.S. government also chartered an aircraft to depart Libya on Friday with additional U.S. and international citizens.

Peter Servine said his parents emphasized how hard the ferry staff and U.S. embassy workers worked to keep the passengers safe and comfortable.

“It really was a tremendous effort on their part,” Peter Servine said.

His parents told him the approximately eight-hour journey was rough but said they avoided sea sickness. He said ferry workers served his parents a hot meal, and now they’re looking forward to a hot shower.

The Servines hoped to get a hotel room in Malta and stay there for a day, Peter Servine said. He expected AECOM to arrange a flight to their home in Olympia either Saturday or today.