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Delta delays leave man's body stranded hundreds of miles from family

Posted at 2:24 PM, Apr 09, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-10 08:46:25-04

A man's body was stranded on a cargo plane for two days after Delta Airlines mistakenly rerouted the flight carrying the corpse and failed to find an alternative and timely flight, according to family members.

"I was stonewalled by Delta at every turn," said David Rhodes, whose stepson, Bryant Raburn, died Tuesday after a four-year fight against leukemia.

Raburn died at his parent's home in Raleigh, North Carolina, but his family made arrangements to bury him in his hometown of Nashville.

A Delta flight was supposed to take Raburn's body to Detroit then to Nashville, two days before a viewing service scheduled for Sunday afternoon. Instead, Delta sent Raburn's remains to Salt Lake City, where several flights to Nashville were canceled due to severe storms in Atlanta that wreaked havoc on Delta's flight schedule. The storms caused thousands of delays and cancellations.

"Delta told me the soonest he could get here was Sunday night, and I said that was unacceptable," Rhodes said. "It seemed they had taken all of their cargo pilots and crew and put them on passenger flights."

Rhodes spent the night prior to his stepson's memorial service at Nashville Airport working with operating managers to find a new flight, since he said Delta refused to offer solutions that would get Raburn's remains to Nashville in time for his own memorial service.

Eventually, BNA workers found a flight that would get Raburn's body to Nashville just one hour before his service started in Spring Hill.

"We wanted time to see him before the service started, but now we won't have that," Rhodes said. "It seems minor, but it's not."

BNA also allowed Raburn's family to meet his body on the tarmac to save time.

"I just want Delta to review their policies, tighten them up, and know when human remains are involved they need to be monitored more closely," Rhodes said. "It's time sensitive."

Delta Airlines did not respond to a request for comment.

Raburn's family hopes sharing their story will prevent other families from experiencing the same thing.

"I tried to do right by him," Rhodes said. "We'll see you in heaven."