GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The West Michigan woman who was quarantined on the cruise ship where she worked is finally home.
On Saturday, 20-year-old Glory Wesseldyk and her family made a desperate plea for her to be allowed off the ship, where she had been stuck for weeks due to concerns about coronavirus.
Authorities told them repeatedly she would have to stay on the ship, but her parents were determined to get her. They started driving to Florida to meet the ship. On the way, they reached out to a number of elected officials in hopes of recruiting help. U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, was made aware of the situation just in time.
“The family reached out to us and as we said in nautical terms, ‘It was all hands on deck,’” Upton said.
Since there had been no COVID-19 cases on Wesseldyk’s ship, the congressman and other officials saw no harm in allowing Wesseldyk to return home.
“I was (calling) right to the White House,” Upton said. “I was like, ‘You guys got to help us.’”
When the ship docked at a port in Fort Lauderdale Monday morning, Wesseldyk’s parents were there, anxiously awaiting a decision.
Wesseldyk said that’s when the ship’s captain called her and a fellow American crew member to his office.
“He was like, ‘So here’s the thing, we just got off with a conference call with the CDC and the head of the Coast Guard and… if your parents hadn’t driven down here, you wouldn’t have gotten off,’” Glory said.
Top officials with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and U.S. Coast Guard said letting the two off the ship would be a one-time exception, calling it a “compassion case.”
Wesseldyk’s parents stood on the dock as their daughter and her co-worker were escorted off the ship. The family cried tears of joy as they were reunited, an emotional moment for all around them.
“You look around and you see all the Border Patrol, these big guys, breaking down in tears and taking pictures,” Wesseldyk’s dad Shane Wesseldyk said.
The family was under strict orders to drive directly back to Michigan. By Tuesday morning, they had arrived back at their home in Plainwell, where Wesseldyk will spend the next two weeks in quarantine to confirm she doesn’t have the virus and isn’t spreading it.