Raleigh parents upset after son’s body stranded during Delta flight chaos

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RALEIGH, N.C. (CBS Newspath) — The Raleigh parents of a man who died from leukemia are frustrated after his body was stranded on a cargo plane for two days, family members say.

The incident happened after Delta Air Lines mistakenly rerouted the flight carrying Bryant Lee Raburn’s body from Raleigh and Delta failed to find an alternative and timely flight, family members told WTVF-TV in Nashville, Tennessee.

Raburn, 31, studied at Middle Tennessee State University until leukemia invaded his body.

After a four-year fight, he moved to Raleigh to be with his parents.

Raburn died Tuesday at his parent’s Raleigh home, but his family made arrangements to bury him in his hometown of Nashville.

“If you’ve never lost a child, it’s a different hurt,” said Raburn’s stepfather David Rhodes.

“We were there with him. I performed CPR on him until EMS got there. But he ended up passing away…he was gone.”

Rhodes said the funeral home made arrangements with Delta to fly the body to Nashville.

Raburn’s body was scheduled to arrive in Nashville two days ago for his funeral.

But a mistake by Delta sent Raburn’s body to the wrong city.

“He was misrouted to Salt Lake City,” Rhodes said.

“Bryant is in Salt Lake City, in a cargo hold, and we don’t know how to get him to Nashville,” Rhodes said.

His stepfather says hours on the phone with Delta led nowhere.

“I was stonewalled everywhere I called,” Rhodes said. “Delta told me the soonest he could get here was Sunday night, and I said that was unacceptable. It seemed they had taken all of their cargo pilots and crew and put them on passenger flights.”

So, on the night before hundreds would gather to celebrate his son’s life, Rhodes came to the Nashville airport and worked with operating managers to find a new flight.

That was after Rhodes said Delta refused to offer solutions that would get Raburn’s body to Nashville in time for his own memorial service.

Well after midnight, Nashville airport officials found a way.

They located a flight that would get Raburn to Nashville just one hour before his service started in Spring Hill.

“We wanted time to see him before the service started, but now we won’t have that,” Rhodes said. “It seems minor, but it’s not.”

Nashville airport officials also allowed Raburn’s family to meet his body on the tarmac to save time.

“With a tight transfer in Atlanta, they could possibly get him here by 1:50 (Sunday),” Rhodes said.

That was just one hour before friends and family planned to gather to view Raburn’s body.

Delta Air Lines told CBS North Carolina that they worked directly with the family to fix the situation as quickly as possible.

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