Thanks to generous Utahns, two visitors from what used to be East Germany will be able to continue their tour of America despite their brush with bad luck. Utahns have donated approximately $3,000 to an account opened for Jorg Fischer and Karsten Richter at Central Bank.Contributions have come in all sizes and for all sorts of reasons. An example: This week a Provo obstetrician who served a mission to Germany donated $500.
"We are at the point now that if they get their passports they could be on their way," said one benefactor. "It would be nice to have airline tickets but we have funds sufficient to buy them if we have to. I think we're fine."
Two Utah County residents who've befriended the men and led efforts to reconstruct their tour of the United States have asked not to be identified.
Fischer, 21, and Richter, 22, were stranded in Orem April 19 when a stranger who had given them a lift from Las Vegas disappeared with their camping equipment, $1,000 in cash, passports, airline tickets home and other belongings. The two men, who are from the eastern sector of Berlin, had spent six months saving money for what was to be a three-month tour of America.
Benefactors have used some money donated by Utahns to reoutfit Fischer and Richter. This week Gart Bros. Sporting Goods Co. at University Mall donated two sleeping bags. Fischer and Richter put them immediately to use, sleeping out under the stars in the backyard of one benefactor's home.
New passports for the men were supposed to arrive last Saturday but have not yet done so.
"We were overly optimistic about how long it's going to take to get them," a benefactor said. The office of Sen. Jake Garn, R-Utah, is intervening in an attempt to speed delivery of the documents.
Benefactors are also still trying to convince Air France to issue replacement tickets the men can use to get home. Uniglobe-Concord Travel Inc. of Provo contacted the travel agency in Berlin that issued the original tickets and arranged to have identification numbers for the tickets sent to Utah.
It appears, however, that the two men will have to purchase tickets - at full price.
Meanwhile, the benefactors are ensuring Fischer and Richter's trip to Utah has been worthwhile, taking them to visit many tourist attractions along the Wasatch Front. On Saturday, the men visited Canyonlands National Park.
Once problems with passports and airline tickets are worked out, the two men will continue their trip.
"We've convinced them not to hitchhike but to take a bus," a benefactor said. The man has also arranged for Fischer and Richter to visit his brother, who lives near Lake Ozark in Missouri and has promised to teach the men to water ski.