Man’s body stranded for two days during Delta flight cancellations

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Man’s body stranded for two days during Delta flight cancellations

The body of a man who died of leukemia at his parents’ North Carolina home was stranded for two days in an airplane’s cargo hold while Delta Air Lines dealt with massive flight cancellations during recent severe weather.

Family members told WFTV-TV in Nashville that Delta Air Lines mistakenly rerouted the flight carrying Bryant Lee Raburn’s body from Raleigh to Salt Lake City, instead of to his hometown of Nashville. Delta then took two days to reroute his body back to Nashville, arriving just an hour or so before a planned memorial service for family and friends was to begin.

“If you’ve never lost a child, it’s a different hurt,” Raburn’s stepfather, David Rhodes, said.

“We were there with him. I performed CPR on him until EMS got there. But he ended up passing away … he was gone.”

Raburn, 31, died after a four-year fight with leukemia.

When family members realized what had happened, Rhodes said, they went to work trying to get Raburn’s body back to Nashville. 

“Bryant is in Salt Lake City, in a cargo hold, and we don’t know how to get him to Nashville,” Rhodes said. “I was stonewalled everywhere I called ... Delta told me the soonest he could get here was Sunday night, and I said that was unacceptable. It seemed they had taken all of their cargo pilots and crew and put them on passenger flights.”

A trip to the Nashville airport to work with Delta managers was also frustrating, Rhodes said. After hours of discussions, Delta found a flight that would get Raburn back to Nashville just one hour before his memorial service.

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