Family of dead Hangzhou ESL teacher desperate for help getting their son’s body home

I’m betting most of us haven’t thought twice about what would happen if we shuffled off our mortal coil while living as laowai here in China. Unfortunately, tragedy happens here as anywhere, and this is the situation that David Woolman’s family is now forced into dealing with — from thousands of kilometres away.

The 23-year-old from Nevada was teaching English in China up until his death about two weeks ago. None of the reports seem to have much detail in the circumstances surrounding his death, other than to say he fell off a roof.

The story hits home for me a bit as David was working for a DD Dragon English school when he died, and I also worked for one of the franchise schools in Suzhou a number of years ago. DD Dragon’s getting raked through the coals a bit, as the company has not offered to assist at all with the massive cost (nearly $13K USD) of getting David’s body home to the US for burial in the family plot.

According to this article:

The family wants to bury Woolman in the family plot. But they face the cost of getting his body from China to Nevada – $12,818 – and raising the funds to do so within the next seven days.

“In my desperation, I am asking that instead of sending flowers that a donation be made so that we can bring my son home and give him a proper burial,” Grell said. “The American Embassy in China has informed me that the sands of time are falling quickly to retrieve his body before China disposes of it.”

Garcia said the family was told by the U.S. State Department that it can request an extension on holding the body in China for up to two months; however, that comes with a $50 per day cost. If the fee isn’t paid, the Chinese government will destroy the body.

The family is doing all they can to raise money to bring their son home, and time is running thin. A small ray of hope in the form of this recent update from David’s father, on the Facebook page setup to raise funds, indicates that American Airlines may be stepping in to lend some assistance.

Until then though, it appears they are relying on the kindness of friends, family and strangers.

If you are interested in helping David’s family raise the $12,818 USD before the March 16th deadline, please refer to the following information:

To send contributions via paypal

“Send Money” in the center tab

Their is an account set up at WELLS FARGO BANK. It is under Deborah Payne (grandmother) for David Woolman. The account number is: 6888140321.

The email that goes in the “to” line is – Walter Woolman (father)

You can also send a check to:
Walter Woolman
4213 Crater st
Las Vegas, NV 89122.

What do you all think — does DD Dragon have a responsibility to help with the cost? Should ESL teacher contracts include a stipulation for insurance covering this sort of thing? Should David and his family been better prepared for this possibility? Are you?