Local family stuck in Honduras amid coronavirus pandemic

Posted at 8:36 AM, Mar 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-23 09:08:02-04

TAMPA, Fla. -- A trip to Honduras to visit family turned into a race to find a flight back home for one local family.

Jennifer Vergel and her family, which includes her 5-year-old son, booked a flight back to Tampa on March 16 after they learned of the border closures. But, that flight was canceled.


"The biggest problem is actually trying to get in touch with someone. We have been in contact with the U.S. Embassy here in Honduras. They won't give us any information at all, but there's nothing we can do," Vergel said.

The biggest struggle for the family is trying to find a commercial flight, given the borders are closed.

"We have the embassy telling us to keep in touch with the airlines. Then we have the travel people here in Honduras tell us that you know they did provide authorization for U.S. citizens to leave. But then those airlines back home they don't even have knowledge of any type of authorization that is needed to fly into the country," Vergel said.

Vergel said her 5-year-old son has handled the situation well. But she says he's getting restless and, like his parents, is ready to get home.


"We even reached out to a private airline company to see what it would take to get back home and they quoted us $20,000 to $25,000 for a private jet to even just take us back home," Vergel said.

Vergel said a curfew is in place and grocery store shelves are bare. Her fear for herself and her family is if they contract COVID-19.

"The resources, the medical supplies, they don't have it here in Honduras. The hospital is not the same condition as it is back in the U.S.," Vergel said. "I have been even told when patients go into the hospital they don't have medicines. They have to go out and buy them themselves. That's the biggest fear. That (if) something happened we won't be able to survive it."


ABC Action News Congressman Crists' office. Within hours a staff member was on the phone with Vergel.

"They have been so helpful. Last night I received the first phone call. This morning as well and just this afternoon, and it brought tears of joy because we felt like we're being helped. And now we may have a possibility to go back home," Vergel said.

In a briefing Sunday evening, President Donald Trump said a team was working to bring Americans stuck in Honduras home but didn't say how many people that included or who they were.

For Vergel, she and her family are holding out hope they will be home sooner rather than later.