Children left orphaned after parents both die of mysterious illness on holiday
Two children have been orphaned after their parents died of a mysterious illness while on a vacation in Fiji, their family said.
David and Michelle Paul died within days of each other, the US State Department said Monday, although details about how or exactly when they died have not been released.
The couple, who are from Fort Worth, Texas, arrived in Fiji on May 22 and were taken to a hospital after they became ill, according to Fiji’s Ministry of Health and Medical Services.
Tracy Calanog, who is married to Michelle’s brother, told WFAA that she and other family members were given heartbreaking news of the couple’s passing in a phone call on Monday – one day before they were supposed to return home.
Canalog said the couple went to the hospital after they experienced intestinal issues, but their health declined within hours of their arrival.
Michelle died first, Canalog said, adding that there were plans to transport David to Australia for treatment, but he died before he could be taken off the island.
She explained ‘They’re (Fiji health officials) are pretty sure (it was) a virus contracted, whether it was in something that they ate or what they drank or something like that.
‘I mean we don’t know what medical care is like there, but we do know that they did everything they could to try to save both of them.’
She said their deaths are being investigated and cannot be returned to the US until their cause of death is determined. If they contracted an infectious disease, they will have to be cremated.
The US Embassy in Fiji told WFAA that it did not have a comment relating to the Paul’s deaths, but said that the government had been warning of a dangerous flu season in the region.
The couple have two young children who were staying with relatives while they were on vacation, although they boarded their dog at a kennel before they left.
Canalog said she began calling kennels to find the dog, named Zoey, who was eventually located and taken to Canalog’s home after word spread on Facebook.
She said: ‘We are incredibly grateful for everyone that came together and helped locate Zooey. I’ve never seen a community like Fort Worth come together for complete strangers to help find a family member.’
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