Daughter desperately searching for her parents' bodies after they died during Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia

Monday, June 24, 2024
 –A woman is desperately searching for her parents' bodies after they died during extreme heat while fulfilling their dream of traveling for the Hajj pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

Alieu Dausy Wurie, 71, and Isatu Tejan Wurie, 65, were last heard from on June 15 when the couple told their daughter they had been waiting for hours in extreme heat for transportation to take them to Mount Arafat.

It was the couple's lifelong dream to complete the hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca which draws millions each year.

'They saved their entire lives to embark on this journey and they didn't receive the proper preparation, the proper documents, it was just a nightmare overall experience,' their daughter Saida Wurie told CNN.

 After last hearing from her parents on that 109 degrees Fahrenheit day, Saida said she was contacted by one of their travel group members who informed the family their parents had died on the journey. 

Their cause of death was listed as natural causes, which includes heat stroke.

Now she is trying to track down their bodies after the Consulate General's office told her the couple have already been buried.

 'We did ask the Saudi government to hold the bodies in order for us to travel to Saudi Arabia to at least give them the proper burial with [their] children being present and to be able to identify the bodies,' Saida said. 'Unfortunately, they have already been buried.' 

According to AccuWeather, the high temperature in Mecca on June 15 was 109 degrees Fahrenheit and ranged from 109 to 113 throughout the week.

'All we know is that it was of natural causes and someone from the U.S. embassy did advise that natural causes could have been due to a heat stroke, which based on the temperature, people were saying it was over 110 degrees,' she said.

'There are millions of people, they have to walk long hours, so it was more than likely a heat stroke for both of my parents.'

Saida said her parents had been dreaming of making the pilgrimage and her mother had recently retired from her role as head nurse at Kaiser Permanente in Prince George's County.

The Wurie's spent $23,000 on the trip and booked through a company registered in Maryland, which Saida believes did not properly care for her parents.

'Honestly, I don't think they were properly prepared for this trip. There was a group of them, maybe up to 100 people that were traveling under a certain agency,' Saida said.

The couple had been waiting for transportation to arrive when they decided to walk. A member of their group said Alieu Dausy had stopped for a break and then the couple was never seen again.

'We received a phone call from someone within their group who advised us they had been missing for a few days, that they were the only two hadn't returned back to their hotel after the hajj was completed,' their daughter said.

'I tried tracking them a few times on the phone, I believe their phones may have died, we tried reaching out to the US embassy, ultimately the same person who had advised us that they were missing advised that he went around to a bunch of hospitals and that they have passed away.'

'I was able to confirm that with the consulate generals office in Saudi Arabia that they had passed away,' she said.


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