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Grand Princess cruise ship passenger opens up after her husband dies from COVID-19

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OAKLAND, Calif. (KRON) — A firefighter from Texas lost his life after his wife says he contracted coronavirus onboard the Grand Princess cruise ship.

That’s the ship that docked at the Port of Oakland early last month.

Now — that man’s wife is filing a lawsuit against the cruise company.

KRON4’s Michelle Kingston spoke to her today about how difficult it was to watch her husband fall ill and not be able to get him the medical care he needed right away.

Susan and Michael Dorety set sail from San Francisco at the end of February to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.

What started as a cruise to Hawaii — ended with Michael losing his life.

“There wasn’t any inclination that anyone was sick on the boat or had been sick,” Susan said. “Everyone was vacationing and having a good time.”

The cruise ship headed back to the Bay Area a bit earlier than passengers had expected.

Salt and pepper shakers were no longer on the tables — Susan says self serving drink stations were shut down.

When they docked at the Port of Oakland, Susan said her husband got a fever — one of the few symptoms of coronavirus passengers were told to look out for.

“Whenever I talked to him and asked him anything, I just got blank responses and blank looks,” she said. “He was not registering what I was saying.”

Frantic — Susan says she called the cruise ship doctor several times over the course of two days before they finally agreed to get him off the boat and to the hospital. 

“They were acting like they had no control of the situation and couldn’t help me and I needed help,” she said. “I couldn’t get off the boat to get help.”

Michael was rushed to an Oakland hospital where Susan says he tested positive for coronavirus.

While Michael was fighting for his life, Susan says she was ordered to return to her cabin where she stayed until she was bused to Travis Air Force base for quarantine.

She was allowed to leave one day to visit him in the ICU — where he was hooked up to dialysis machines, feeding tubes and in a medically induced coma.

Michael took his last breath 10 days after getting off the ship. The doctor called Susan to let her know her husband was dying.

“She said I can stay with you and count down his heart beat, which she did,” Susan said. “It took 35 minutes before he passed, she stayed on the phone said it’s at 40 its at 30 until it no longer beated.”

Susan says she also tested positive for coronavirus, but was asymptomatic. She’s back home in Texas and now filing a lawsuit against the cruise company for negligence.

Princess Cruises released a statement saying: “Princess Cruises has been sensitive to the difficulties the COVID-19 outbreak has caused to our guests and crew. Our response throughout this process has focused on the well-being of our guests and crew within the parameters dictated to us by the government agencies involved and the evolving medical understanding of this new illness.”

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