Family trying to get relative's body home from Africa

By Bob Hallmark - bio | email

The mystery surrounding their loved one has reached a sad end, and an East Texas family needs your help to bring a loved one home from Africa to her final resting place.

38-year old Lashondra Fortson of Kilgore left in March for a trip to Nigeria, and a month later, her family learned that she had died while over there. Now, Lashondra's family is facing a staggering expense to bring her body back to East Texas.

For two weeks the Fortson family made hundreds of calls overseas, to hospitals , to embassy personnel, even to congressmen, trying to find out what happened to Lashondra.

"Something very deep inside me , that I was hoping and praying that it wasn't her that she was still alive," says Fortsons sister, Sharonda Wheat.

Friday came the news from the American embassy in Nigeria they hoped they would never hear. Lashonda was gone.

"Its been corroborated by not only the physicians that were attending her at the airport on the day of her death but also by the physicians that were caring for her at the hospital," said U.S. Embassy liaison Daniel Horney from his office in Nigeria.

"Very hard, very hard to hear, it was just so many questions going unanswered," said family friend Darlene Wells.

Now the Fortsons are told they must pay at least $10,000 to have Lashondra's body returned home. Congressman Louie Gohmert's office has even tried to intervene.

"I've seen first hand the problems dealing with these countries diplomatically trying to get assistance,we intend to continue doing with Nigeria and that is to keep fussing keep putting pressure on," said Gohmert.

But for now, the Fortsons must come up with the 10-thousand dollars.

"I want her back I don't want to wait another four weeks right now we're at the point trying to get her body back and any help we can get towards getting her back would be very appreciated," Wheat says.

If you'd like to help the family with their expenses, a fund has been set up at the Community Bank on South High Street in Longview, under the name of Lashondra Fortson.

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