Mystery Shrouds Texan Couple Who Died From Unknown Illness in Fiji

June 4, 2019 Updated: June 4, 2019

A Texas couple mysteriously died after catching an unidentified disease while vacationing in the South Pacific Ocean.

Fort Worth husband and wife David and Michelle Paul passed away after contracting the unknown illness in the Fijian island of Denarau and city of Nadi.

Family members said the couple realized something was wrong and went to a hospital.

“They knew something was going on in their body and were able to get to the hospital,” Michelle’s sister in law Tracey Calanog told KVUE after receiving a phone call from the couple just one day before they were due to return home. “Anything can happen.”

The family members revealed David and Michelle seemed to be suffering from some kind of virus, which was strong enough to debilitate two young and healthy people.

“[David was] very physically fit, former Air Force [officer, and a] former student-athlete,” Calanog told the news outlet.

However, despite the best efforts of health professionals, Michelle died and David followed shortly after during the Memorial Day weekend, before he could be airlifted to Australia for treatment, possibly from pneumonia.

None of the medical staff were able to determine the exact cause of their deaths.

David and Michelle loved to travel, went on trips together each year, and had planned their journey to Fiji for a long time.

“They were planning an amazing vacation,” Calanog told KVUE.

David had reportedly worked for Lockheed Martin as an engineer at its Fort Worth Beach Street facility.

Lockheed Martin spokesman Kenneth Ross confirmed with the Fort Worth Star Telegram their bodies have not been transferred to the United States yet and the company is “working with the family” to determine how to “support repatriating them.”

The company was unable to confirm what was causing the delay and said David’s colleagues had been informed of his death.

The couple are survived by their 2-year-old son and David’s daughter from a previous relationship. Their beloved pet dog Zooey had been left at a boarding kennel, but relatives did not know which one.

Canalog cold-called businesses across the city, and with the help of fellow animal lovers, was able to track down the dog’s whereabouts and bring Zooey home with her to College Station.

“We were literally just calling places on a hope and a prayer … we are incredibly grateful for everyone that came together and helped locate Zooey,” she said, according to ABC 7. “I’ve never seen a community like Fort Worth come together for complete strangers to help find a family member.”

A U.S. Department of State official has expressed its condolences to the surviving family members and are waiting for an outcome to the investigation into the couple’s deaths.

The U.S. Embassy in Fiji would not comment on the deaths but confirmed the Fijian government had issued a warning about a dangerous flu season that was affecting the region.

The Fiji Broadcasting Corporation reported police on the island confirmed an illness caused the couple’s deaths and further testing on the remains would be carried out overseas.

The couple’s remains cannot be returned to the United States until a cause of death is determined, according to Calanog. If the disease is found to be infectious, the bodies will have to be cremated.

Even if the remains are cremated the family will have something to remember them by.

“We know that Michelle and David are with us in Zooey,” Calanog said, reported ABC 7.

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