Denver Barfield: Family battle to bring son’s body back from Vietnam after coroner ‘demands’ £10,000 payment | world news
A British mother who is fighting to bring her son’s body home after he died in a motorbike accident in Vietnam has said she fears he will be cremated without her permission.
Denver Barfield, 24, and a Briton died in the town of Hoi An early Monday morning when their bicycle hit a utility pole on the side of the road, local police said.
Her mother, Debsy Clayton, said she was being ‘harassed’ by a man claiming to be a Vietnamese coroner over payment for her body to be sent home, with an initial bill of $12,500 (£10,000).
She fears her son’s body will be cremated if they don’t pay the bill soon.
When she stopped responding to messages, she received graphic images of her son’s body after the accident.
British police came to her home in Leicestershire to tell her of the death of her son. “I was completely hysterical when they told me what had happened,” she told Sky News.
“And then I started getting messages on WhatsApp asking me what I wanted to do with her body.”
She was told it would take “at least $12,500” to bring her son home, with additional costs for embalming, storing his body and handling his belongings.
“We were told it would be cheaper if we wanted them to cremate him and ship his ashes home, but I started freaking out because I want him home whole,” he said. said Mrs. Clayton, moved.
“They kept texting and texting me, I’m so scared they’ll do something to my son’s body.”
Mr Barfield had taken out travel insurance, which the family say should cover the costs, but they do not know the details of his policy.
“I told the man I was trying to sort it out with insurance,” Ms Clayton said. “But the man told me it would take too long and I would have to pay the bill upfront and claim the refund later.”
Police told her not to respond, but she says the coroner continued to message her, saying ‘the longer you take to make a decision, the higher the cost will go’.
Ms Clayton described her son as a “true gentleman”, saying: “He was a handsome young man and I was so proud of him.”
Trip of a lifetime before a new job
Mr Barfield’s close friend Harri Stavrou has set up a JustGiving page in his memory to help bring his body home.
He described the Aston University graduate as “full of life”, saying: “Everyone who met him loved him instantly.”
The site, set up less than 24 hours ago, has raised over £20,000.
The 24-year-old had planned to spend three months traveling in Asia before starting a new job and had been in Thailand before Vietnam.
“He had such a bright future ahead of him, I know he would have smashed that job in London,” he said.
Mr Stavrou, who has known Mr Barfield since he was 14, told Sky News: “No mother should have to bury her son.
“And immediately she started getting messages from a coroner demanding money.”
He continued, “Denver was sick with COVID about a year and a half ago, and during that time I had to pick up his prescription and run errands for his mom.
“I promised him that then I would take care of his mother for him – and I hope I have made him proud.
“That’s all for you, bro.”
“My legs turned to jelly”
Mr Stavrou said he first heard of his friend’s death through a text message from another friend.
“I immediately texted Denver because I just couldn’t believe it was true,” he said.
“Then my phone started ringing with a call from her mom. My legs turned to jelly because I knew what she was going to tell me.”
Mr. Stavrou said the details of the Denver crash are still unclear. “We don’t know who was riding the motorcycle or what happened,” he said.
“Whether we know it or not, it doesn’t take away the tragedy of what happened. But for his mother and sister, I think it will give them some peace to know exactly what happened. ‘happened.”
The thousands of people gathered to help bring Mr Barfield home are a testament to “how much people loved him”, he said.
“I don’t think his mother expected us to take the target down so quickly, but it just shows how much Denver was held in high esteem by everyone.”
He added: “Denver had a heart full of gold, he was always joking, telling jokes and he was by far the best storyteller on the planet – and when he was concentrating for some reason he stuck his tongue out, I don’t I don’t know why he did it but it made us laugh.
“Every time you saw Denver, you knew you’d be hysterical listening to it all night.”