Metro Atlanta man burned in New Zealand volcanic eruption dies

Metro Atlanta man burned in New Zealand volcanic eruption dies
Pratap Singh and his wife Mayuari were visiting White Island from a cruise ship when the volcano erupted Dec. 9. Mayuri died Dec. 23. (WSBTV)

NEW ZEALAND — An Atlanta man who was hurt in a volcanic explosion in New Zealand in December has died, family confirmed Wednesday.

Pratap Singh and his wife Mayuari were visiting White Island from a cruise ship when the volcano erupted Dec. 9. Mayuari Singh died Dec. 23.

Pratap Singh was burned over half of his body and had remained in the hospital in New Zealand, where he died this week.

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The Stone Mountain couple’s three children and Mayuari Singh’s mother stayed on the ship and were not injured in the eruption.

Forty-seven people from a Royal Caribbean cruise ship were visiting the tourist destination when the volcano erupted, killing 13 initially and leaving more than two dozen hospitalized with severe burns. Twenty-one people have now died as a result of the eruption.

The family released the following statement:

"With an incredibly heavy heart, I disclose that my Uncle Pratap Singh (nicknamed “Paul”) is the latest victim who did not survive from the Whakaari White Island incident. He had suffered 55% burns in the volcano eruption that occurred on Dec 9th, 2019. He was transferred from Whakatane Hospital on Dec 10th to the Critical Care Unit in Middlemore Hospital. Throughout his surgeries and treatment process, he fought bravely and battled hard for 50 days – the doctors described him as a “fighter”. We all should be proud of the way he fought. He was on the Island with his wife Mayuari Singh (nicknamed “Mary”), who was also admitted into the Middlemore ICU with 72% body burns. She battled for 13 days before passing away on Dec 22nd, 2019. Paul and Mary are survived by three children: 11-year-old son, and 6-year-old twin daughters (names not provided for privacy, they will remain in precious care of immediate family members).

Pratap Singh and his wife Mayuari were visiting White Island from a cruise ship when the volcano erupted Dec. 9.
Pratap Singh and his wife Mayuari were visiting White Island from a cruise ship when the volcano erupted Dec. 9. (WSBTV)

Paul was an Indian-American entrepreneur – a dynamic leader, genuinely kind-hearted, very spiritual individual with a charismatic personality well-known in the metro-Atlanta (US) community for his philanthropic and social service activities. As the President of SEVA International Atlanta USA chapter, he led the Sponsor-A-Child initiative - a project that funds hundreds of under-privileged children for education and health care. He also served as an organizational member/sponsor to many local temples including ISCKON, Hindu Temple, Shakti Mandir… For his volunteer work, he was honored with the prestigious Bharat Gaurav (India’s Pride) Award in 2012 for his outstanding contributions and numerous leadership roles. Additionally, as an Atlanta patron, he was an active contributor to various advisory boards and neighborhood planning units.

My uncle Paul will be remembered as an invincible businessman, a passionate social worker/educator, a transparent decision maker, an event liaison and a celebrated member of the Indian-American community. His unmatched exuberance and unconditional love for everyone around him will forever be missed. He was the best father, best son, best guardian, best brother, best uncle, best volunteer and the best friend anyone could wish for. The entire family grew and thrived under his leadership. His family and friends who revered him as “Paul Bhai” (brother) are going to miss him dearly. For the outside world, I have no words to describe how much he is loved, and for the people who know him - I have no words to describe you how much he loves you… (if you are reading this, deep down inside you know that. You will meet a person like Pratap Singh only once in your lifetime…you know that). We love his indomitable spirit and incorrigible attitude… there is absolutely no one like him. Many have a good heart, but he has a huge one.

My aunt - Mary will be remembered as a beloved member of the American-Indian community, a true supermom, a responsible guardian, an ambitious professional, and an endearing friend who enjoyed sharing her culinary expertise and delicious homemade meals. I’m sure that anyone who enjoyed any of her meticulously prepared handmade meals (Indian, American, Italian or Mexican) can certainly vouch for her. She was one of a kind - we love her, we miss her so much…

The heavenly couple lived a fascinating life together serving as the “central hub” for everyone around them – surviving children, immediate family members, relatives and friends are mourning their loss, we are all left shattered and heartbroken. Their love is priceless, their presence is irreplaceable. We miss them dearly and their memories are going to stay fresh in our hearts and minds for the times to come. This changes everything - a new normal might be impossible to achieve for our family.

Family and friends will strive to gather inspiration and strength from Paul and Mary’s devotion. They are both avid worshipers and devotees of Lord Shiva (the supreme God). I’m afraid - he loves them more. Shiva loves them more, more than us…

The Singh family would like to promote Paul and Mary’s mission to provide support to children across the world in need of food, shelter and education. I plan to engage with GiveALittle foundation for this cause. (links to be updated soon)

Our family continues to pray for a healthy and fast recovery of the remaining survivors. We offer our sincere condolences and do share the pain and sorrow of the families who have lost their loved ones in this tragic incident.

We would like to commend and acknowledge the doctors/consultants, nurses and the administrative staff of Middlemore Hospital for their efforts in providing the best medical attention and care possible in New Zealand. I would like to acknowledge officials from the NZ police authorities, NZ immigration and US Consulate for offering their help and support.

We appreciate our family liaison officers Joe Hammon, Lio Kiahau, Helen Chiell and victim support liaison Karnail Singh for supporting us through this tough journey."

We are requesting the extended relatives, friends and acquaintances to respect the family’s privacy and request for consent before approaching press and media for any interviews. Please continue to post your thoughts, memories, blessings and prayers on Pratap and Mayuari Singh’s facebook pages. We will be sharing more details regarding Paul’s funeral service soon.

I visited Paul and Mary every day since Dec 10th while they were at the Middlemore hospital, the last 50 days of our family’s life were distressing, slow and agonizing painful. I seriously request and encourage volcano tourism in NZ and around the world to charter proper safety equipment including appropriate heat resistant gear/clothing, safety glasses, helmets and face masks. Proper safety equipment would have saved my family. Tours should not be operated without comprehensive disclosure of risks associated, and a complete assessment of geothermal and seismic activity.

Metro Atlanta woman injured in New Zealand volcano eruption dies