Studio 10 host Sarah Harris has held back tears as a grieving mother emotionally questioned why she has still not been reunited with her son more than two weeks after he was killed by a drunk driver in the US.
Queensland mother Ellen Smail has spent the past 18 days desperately trying to get to her son Marcus DiFonzo, 33, after he died in a road incident in the state of Michigan on July 11.
More than $30,000 has been raised to help fund his repatriation or to fly Ms Smail over to the US, but neither has been possible so far because of space limits on planes during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Harris and her Studio 10 co-hosts Joe Hildebrand and Angela Bishop were reduced to tears as the Gladstone mother begged authorities to fly her son home.
‘I just beg, I am begging, please, he is not cargo, he is my son, a brother, uncle and a grandson,’ she said.
‘We’re so sorry, that’s horrible news,’ Harris responded through tears. ‘We would love to help you bring your boy home.’
Ms Smail said she had clung to hope after securing a flight booking – only to learn it had been denied at midnight on Monday night.
‘The roadblocks are due to COVID. Everyone has been absolutely outstanding – the embassy in Australia and the funeral homes,’ she said.
‘The red tape is the flight to get him home. Money is not the issue.’
‘I just need Marcus to be able to be at rest. I don’t care, whether I go there or whether they bring him home.’
Ms Smail said she last saw her ‘beautiful, strong and vivacious’ son – who has been living in the US for two years – 18 months ago.
The mother and her friends have raised $34,734 to get Mr DiFonzo home through a GoFundMe fundraising page set up two weeks ago.
In an emotional ending to the segment, Hildebrand hit out at the ‘clinical, bureaucratic’ processes preventing Ms Smail from seeing her son.
‘There is no point in containing this disease if we kill off what makes us human in the process,’ he said.
The number of flights arriving into Australia was cut even further this month following the announcement international arrivals in Sydney would be limited to 350 people per day from July 20.