ST KITTS — A young Indiana couple will return from their honeymoon after a long delay and a $30,000 plane ticket home.
Newlyweds Clay and Acaimie Chastain were enjoying their honeymoon and hiking a dormant volcano on the island of St. Kitts in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Clay saw a trail with ropes leading to the crater and decided to follow it.
“The inside of the volcano, the crater was very green and full of foliage and trees,” Clay said. “It was very beautiful.”
As Clay was lowering himself down, one of the ropes snapped and he tumbled down the volcano, falling over 50 feet. Acaimie heard the rope snap and knew something was wrong, so she went after him.
“As I was climbing down I kept screaming and calling for him, and then I started actually hearing him calling back every so often just saying help but kind of faint and weak,” Acaimie said.
Acaimie finally found her husband, holding his head sitting next to a pool of blood. He was alert, but disoriented.
“He just kept asking me ‘Where are we?’ Acaimie said. “He didn’t know what was going on. He was really confused.”
With no cell service and no one in earshot, Acaimie had to guide her husband out of the crater. They then hiked for nearly four miles to safety.
“I could stand up on my own but I had no sense of balance and no sense of direction,” Clay said. “I had to rely on her to guide me and tell me where to go and push me in the right direction.”
“It was really scary and the hardest day of my life so far,” Acaimie said. “It’s still really traumatic for me to think back about it.”
Once they got to the hospital, they learned the traumatic hike was just the first part of the journey home. Due to his head injuries, Clay needs a medical flight home. The couple has to pay for it up front.
“We’re looking at $30,000 for him to be transferred back, and that’s just for the flight,” Acaimie said.
Family says that the insurance company officially denied their claim for the flight. However, in just three days, family and friends joined together to raise $30,000.
“Clay and I are just blown away by everyone’s generosity and prayers while we’re in this situation,” Acaimie said. “Truly unbelievable.”
According to the U.S. Department of State, the vast majority of insurance companies will not pay for a medical evacuation back to the United States.
The couple scheduled a flight to Florida and should be back in the United States by Wednesday.