NewsPhoenix Metro NewsCentral Phoenix News


Stranded travelers still trying to return to United States

Posted at 6:27 PM, Mar 19, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-19 23:24:48-04

PHOENIX — Amid the coronavirus outbreak, some stranded travelers are desperately trying to return to the United States.

Among those is Shannon Cooley, an ASU student who lives in Tempe, but is also a member of a semi-professional women's all-star football team. The team traveled to Honduras for a competition, and is finding it difficult to return to the U.S.

"Our [American Football Events] team, Team USA team consists of players from 17 different states, it's an all star team, so we came here to compete against other countries and win," Cooley said.

Cooley said the coronavirus outbreak has Honduras on lock down, which means she and her teammates are confined to a hotel.

"I definitely think it's kind of unreal," Cooley said. "It seems kind of like a movie."

The team told ABC15 about 25 members were able to get on a flight by working with the US embassy, but 30 of them remain within the confines of the hotel.

"It's not what you know, but who you know in this situation," said Operations Manager Sandy Glossenger.

The team is hopeful they will find a way home soon.

"I'm definitely looking forward to coming back home and getting back to the normal, daily life," Cooley said.

Cooley is not the only person wishing she were back in Arizona.

Another woman, from Tucson, told ABC15 she is stuck in Ecuador.

"Saturday, I thought was the most stressful day of my life so far," said Channing Stirrat, about her attempts to return to the U.S. "Then Monday happened, and then yesterday happened."

Stirrat, who is from Tucson, is studying abroad and attends Lewis & Clark College in Portland.

"Personally, I've had a close relative recently receive some pretty scary medical news and I just would love to be home with my family right now," Stirrat said.

Stirrat told ABC15 she is currently staying in an AirBnB, but finding a way home has proved nearly impossible, given travel restrictions and cancelled flights. She says she is booked on a flight next month, but is skeptical it will ever leave the ground.

"With how things are ramping up in the U.S. and how things aren't exactly slowing down here, we're not confident that those flights are really going to hold for us," she said.

Stirrat is working with her college, but since she is from Tucson, is also appealing to Arizona's leaders, in the hope she can get them to reach the highest levels of government for help.

"And try to get them to see that we're scared," she said. "We don't know when we're going to get home."

Lewis & Clark College, which Stirrat attends, sent ABC15 the following information:

“This is an incredibly quickly changing situation. We are doing everything in our power to bring our remaining students and faculty home from Ecuador.

We’ve reached out to our congressional delegation for additional help navigating diplomatic channels.Those offices are being responsive and supportive, which we greatly appreciate.”