Religion

Couple Dies During Hajj In Saudi Arabia

A Maryland couple, fulfilling their lifelong dream of participating in the Hajj exercise, tragically died amid extreme heat conditions in Saudi Arabia.

Alieu Dausy Wurie, 71, and Isatu Tejan Wurie, 65, were last heard from on June 15. The couple had informed their daughter, Saida Wurie, that they had been waiting for hours in the intense heat for transportation to Mount Arafat.

The Bowie couple had long dreamt of completing the Hajj, an annual Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca mandatory for all Muslims with the means to undertake it.

“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,” Saida recounted .

After last hearing from her parents on that 109 degrees Fahrenheit day, Saida received a call from a member of their travel group, who informed the family that her parents had died during the pilgrimage.

Their cause of death was listed as natural causes, which included heat stroke. Saida is now trying to locate their bodies after learning from the Consulate General’s office that the couple had 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, with temperatures ranging 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,” Saida added.

The Wuries had spent $23,000 on the trip, booking through a Maryland-registered company that 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 when they decided to walk. A member of their group reported that Alieu Dausy had stopped for a break, and the couple were 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 who hadn’t returned to their hotel after the Hajj was completed,” Saida said.

The couple’s deaths were confirmed by the consulate general’s office in Saudi Arabia. Democrat Senate candidate Angela Alsobrooks paid tribute to the couple on X, noting that Haja Isatu Wurie was an active community member involved in several organizations with significant local and global impacts.

The Wuries, originally from Sierra Leone, were longtime residents of Bowie. They had recently rekindled their relationship after splitting in the early 2010s, according to The Baltimore Sun. Isatu Tejan Wurie had recently retired from her role as head nurse at Kaiser Permanente in Prince George’s County.

Recall that over 1,300 people died during this year’s Hajj exercise, primarily due to the scorching temperatures, with daily highs between 117 and 120 degrees Fahrenheit in Mecca and surrounding sacred sites, according to the Saudi National Center for Meteorology.

The Egyptian government announced on Saturday it would prosecute travel agents over Hajj “fraud” following thousands of deaths. Sixteen tourism companies are to be stripped of their licenses, and their managers will be referred to the public sector for illegal pilgrimages to Mecca.

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