Vick Singh, the couple’s nephew, wrote a powerful statement about their lives and their ordeal. According to The Associated Press, Vick Singh described how they were loved in their community and how they might have been saved by proper safety equipment.
In this undated photo released by the New Zealand Police, Pratap “Paul” Singh is seen in a portrait made in the sunlight. Singh is the latest victim of the White Island volcano eruption that occurred in early December.
“I visited Paul and Mary every day since Dec. 10 while they were at the Middlemore Hospital, the last 50 days of my life were distressing, slow and agonizing painful,” Vick Singh wrote.
He said Mary suffered burns to 72% of her body and Paul to 55% of his body, with doctors describing him as a fighter after he underwent numerous surgeries and treatments.
Singh said Paul, 49, was an entrepreneur who was well-known in the Indian American community in Atlanta for his philanthropy and social service.
“His unmatched exuberance and unconditional love for everyone around him will forever be missed,” Singh wrote. “He was the best father, best guardian, best brother, best uncle, best volunteer and the best friend anyone could wish.”
He described Mary, 42, as an ambitious professional and supermom who would meticulously hand-make delicious meals from various cultures, whether it was Indian, American, Italian or Mexican.
He said the pair created a central hub for all their family and friends.
Twenty-one people have died. In all, 47 people were visiting the island at the time, and many still remain hospitalized with severe burns.
A volcanic island in New Zealand erupted Dec. 9, 2019. Five people were killed and many more were reported injured or missing. Some cruise-line vacationers were on the island when it erupted. White Island is about 30 miles from the New Zealand mainland.
Tourists who had visited the island immediately before the eruption told The Associated Press they were provided with minimal safety equipment such as hard hats and optional gas masks, which they could wear if they had trouble breathing.
WATCH: Deadly New Zealand volcano eruption
Singh said he wanted to keep promoting the devoutly religious couple’s mission to provide support to children in need across the world.
“We miss them dearly and their memories are going to stay fresh in our hearts and minds for the times to come,” Singh wrote. “This changes everything, a new normal might be impossible to achieve for our family.”