The hosts of morning TV program Studio 10 have broken into tears as a grieving mother sobbed through an interview about her son’s tragic death.
Ellen Smail, from Gladstone in Queensland, is desperately fighting to be with her son’s body after the 33-year-old was killed by a drunk driver in the US state of Michigan on July 11.
Ms Smail told Studio 10 she feels “numb” as she is denied flights over to the US and fighting coronavirus red tape to get his body back to Australia.
She told the program all she wants to do is see her son Marcus just one last time, but 17 days after the horrific incident Ms Smail is still no closer to him.
“We thought we had a flight booking but we were denied at midnight [Monday night], so for a couple of days we had some hope, but I reapplied again for exemption to go over to America this morning,” she said.
The heartbroken mother sobbed and wiped her eyes with a tissue as she described her “absolutely beautiful, strong and vivacious” son and begged anybody with the power to help to get her to the US or bring her son back to Australia.
“The roadblocks are due to COVID, everyone has been absolutely outstanding, the embassy in Australia and the funeral homes, we also have somebody else good who is at transport, everyone has been helping and the red tape is simply the lack of flights and the lack of space to get Marcus home with a casket,” she said.
Studio 10 hosts in tears during mum’s plea
Ms Smail said she took a photo in a canoe with her son the last time she saw him 18 months ago, and was due to fly over to the US where he was working for his birthday in October.
The mother said the major problem was the space needed to fly him home and had one message for authorities that had hosts Sarah Harris, Joe Hildebrand and Angela Bishop all in tears.
“I just beg, I am begging, please, he is not cargo, he is my son. And a brother, and uncle and a grandson,” Ms Smail sobbed.
“Anything to get him home, we will pay, and I have waited ... I have been patient and I understand COVID-19, I understand it and it is a pandemic, but our circumstances ... They have been affected by COVID, but not because of COVID-19.”
As the mother pleads for help, host Sarah Harris wipes her eyes as she says, “We’re all in support and all in tears with you.”
“Um ... We’re so sorry,” Harris continues as she chokes up.
“That’s such horrible news.”
Hildebrand then says they will do whatever it takes to help the mother bring her son home.
“When you have these really clinical bureaucratic responses .... there is no point in containing this disease if we kill off what makes us human in the process,” he said.
“If we can’t find a way to give people basic dignity at the end of their life or when they’re grieving the loss of their son, then what are we trying to save?”
A GoFundMe page has been established to help raise funds for Ms Smail to be reunited with her son and so far more than $30,000 has been raised.
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