Campaign to fly Canadian's body home
On the eve of what would have been her 25th birthday, Joanna Lam's Canadian workplace has launched a campaign to bring her body home.
Lam, 24, and her boyfriend Connor Hayes, 25, are believed to have been killed when their vehicle was hit by a slip in stormy conditions and plunged off the road into the Haast River earlier this month.
Lam's body was found last week on a beach seven kilometres north of Haast. Hayes' body is yet to be found.
Ottawa Hospital, where Lam worked as a sonographer before taking a leave of absence to travel and work abroad, are now trying to raise funds to bring her body home.
On their Facebook page, the hospital pays tribute to her ''professionalism, personality and wonderful smile'', and appeal to the public to donate to the Joanna Lam Memorial Fund.
Lam's brother Jeffrey Lam said he and his family were ''so taken aback'' by the hospital's initiative.
''Her coworkers and colleagues reached out together and have really started this initiative on their own,'' he said.
Jeffrey said the family would not be exploring fundraising options themselves. Whatever was raised over the amount needed to send the body would be donated to the Haast community or Land Search and Rescue (Landsar) volunteers.
''There's been a lot of down moments and a lot of sadness and grief, but in contrast to that there has been moments of overwhelming support," he said.
''We're floored by the amount of goodwill from people.''
The Lam family were making preparations to bring the body home, but were still holding out hope that Hayes and Lam's body could be returned to Canada together.
''We're just faced with this overwhelming process of bringing Joanna home, both logistically and financially.''
Today should have been Lam's 25th birthday, and it had been a ''tough day for all of us'', Jeffrey said.
''We just got together as a family and talked about her, and remembered her."
Jeffrey was ''touched'' by the outpouring of support they had recieved from New Zealand.
''Everybody there are true heroes. I just want to thank you, everybody who is going out there and thinking of us. Someday I want to go out there and thank everyone personally," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News