Cape Charles woman’s father dies overseas; $20,000 bill to bring his remains back to US

Local News

CAPE CHARLES, Va. (WAVY) — A Cape Charles woman is facing a heartbreaking dilemma after her father passed away while overseas this week.

Her family is trying to get his body home, but in order to do that, they have to pay $20,000.

The family is running out of time – they need to make a decision by Monday in order to preserve their loved one’s body.

While many people are celebrating their fathers this weekend, Ashley Carannante is mourning the loss of hers. 

“I wish I could have one more hug from him,” Carannante said.

Carannante’s dad, Michael Cunningham, was in Croatia for the wedding of a close family friend, but on Monday, he had a heart attack.

“They started paperwork to have him transferred to a U.S. hospital in Germany,” she said.

The rest of Carannante’s family is in Pennsylvania, so they got in touch with Congressman Matt Cartwright’s office for help across international borders.

But Carannante said her dad wasn’t yet stable enough for the transfer, so doctors kept him at the Croatian hospital until his condition could improve.

The family kept in contact with the U.S. Embassy through Rep. Cartwright’s office, however Michael suffered another heart attack and passed away.

“Because he died in the hospital, he is on Croatian soil and so the military and the U.S. government cannot aid,” Carannante said.

While dealing with Michael’s unexpected death, the family was hit with another blow. In order to get his body back to the United States, they’ll have to pay $20,000 to cover the cost of embalming her father’s remains, a special casket, and flight home.

“I just, I couldn’t even talk. I was at a loss for words,” Carannante said. “The only other option the hospital gave us was to cremate him and then he could come home when my Godfather comes home.”

Carannante’s father is a former Marine and she said they want to give him a proper military burial.

“He was the best dad anybody could ask for.” she said. “If you needed help, he was there for you, it didn’t matter who it was.”

Now the family is just hoping people will help them bring their loved one home.

“He was awesome and I miss him so much,” Carannante said.

We reached out to Cartwright’s office, who confirmed they’ve been working with the family but at this time, it’s not clear if anything else can be done.

Again, the family says they need to make a decision by Monday in order to preserve the body.

If you’d like to help, click here.

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